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Elusive Quest for Growth

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Chapter Review: Cash for Condoms-The Elusive Quest for Growth

William Easterly starts off the chapter by saying, “The most unprepossessing candidate for the Holy Grail of prosperity is seven inches of latex: a condom”. The reference here is made to population control. He says that rich countries must provide aid to poor countries to help them control population-cash for condoms-and that is the only way to progress.
Population has been concern in economics since Thomas Malthus. In the 19th century, he propounded that the rate of population growth rate will outpace the rate of food production and eventually there will be massive famines to correct the downward pressure exerted by population on food resources. As recently as 1960 Paul Ehrlich predicted massive famines would wipe out at least a fifth of the population. But this didn't happen. While population did double between 1960 and 1990, food production tripled and food prices actually decreased. At the time when Ehrlich predicted the famines, the population growth rate was 2.1 but has since reduced. The reduction can be attributed to a fall in birth rate rather than an increase in death rate in the form of famines.
The author then cites Lester Brown to convey that the population scare is a relevant issue. Excess population is putting a strain on food, water, forest products, land availability and employment opportunities. Pakistan’s workforce is projected to increase from 72million in 1999 to 199 million in 2050.
The solution put forth in the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, 1994 was to call for increased family planning (more condoms) and to ensure availability of such facilities. This is supported by Lester Brown’s argument as well. He says, “Enhanced domestic and international support for family planning services ...will yield the dual benefits of better living conditions…...

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