Eastern Europe is much more active in encouraging growth. Three children per family has become the adopted goal of several Eastern Bloc countries that fear for national survival if the present trend continues.
Parental subsidies, housing priorities and generous maternity leaves at full salaries are among the inducements for multiple child families.
Interestingly enough, in Romania, contraceptives are banned and abortions permitted only on doctor’s orders in the hope that birth rates can be increased.
In general, despite some short-term successes, people of East and West Europe have ignored both blandishment and restrictions. The consequences will only gradually emerge over the next several decades.
In Soviet Union, in 1950s and 1960s, the birth rate decreased significantly. The low birth rate resulted in the reduced number of youth entering the labour force and the armed forces. This shortage in labour created many socio-economic problems. Consequently, a policy was adopted to encourage large-sized families.
In Russia, especially the European Russia, where the rate of natural increase of population in 2010 was -0.5 per cent, the government is trying to create a favourable atmosphere for high birth rate through incentives and publicity.
The Mother Lenin Award was introduced in Soviet Union as early as 1970s. This award carrying handsome cash, a house, a car and a certificate to be given to a mother who gave birth to twelve children
In Germany, where the birth rate has fallen as low as the death rate, the government has taken stronger measures to encourage larger families.
For example, following the birth of a second child, mothers are allowed one year’s leave from work at 80 per cent of their salaries. Low interest loans for homes are available at the time of marriage and when each child is born.
In the USA, where the birth rate is about 1 per cent which is higher to that of most of the countries of Europe, and where a tax allowance is given for each child, there is concern over the implications of a population with a stationary size.
Low birth rates combined with low death rates have resulted in an increase in the proportion of elderly people in the population.
At present, about 15 per cent of the US population is over 65 years of age, compared to only 8 per cent in 1950- It is estimated that by the end of 2015, about 16 per cent of a population will be over 65 years of age.
In Canada, a government family planning programme was launched in 1969. Under this policy, prohibitions on the distribution of contraceptives were withdrawn and abortion was made more liberal.
Most of the West European countries have no official population policy, other than the pronatalist policy.
In the UK, it was in 1974 that contraceptives and abortions received official recognition. In most of the Catholic countries, birth control measures have remained illegal, though late marriage, illegal abortions, rhythm methods, etc., have helped these countries in keeping their growth rates low.
In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, until recently, dissemination of family planning materials and information was hampered by laws.
France legalized contraceptives in 1960s. The birth control devices are still illegal in Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Italy has however legalized the pill for medical purposes. It was in 1975 that new laws authorized the government to promote family planning in Italy.
Australia and New Zealand have considered themselves as the under populated countries. The policies of these governments have been pro-natalist and pro-immigration. A policy to have zero growth rate of population has been adopted by these countries.
Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea are the only countries in Asia which have been successful in reducing their birth rates to the level of developed countries, largely by legalizing abortion.
The population policy of Japan, adopted in 1950, strongly discouraged a family with more than two children.
In some of the African countries, namely, Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Gabon, Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Togo and Guinea-Bissau, the governments have adopted the policies to increase population.
This policy in these developing countries is based on the belief that continued population growth is the key to economic development.
In the opinion of the formulators of this policy, a youthful population is necessary to develop the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Some African countries do not advocate birth control because poor living conditions adversely affect both infant mortality and fertility. In many areas, fecundity (fertility) is low because of poor nutrition or disease and is considered to be a greater problem than high fertility.
Most of the Latin American countries being Catholics in their faith have been very reluctant to accept population growth measures. At present, many Latin American countries are propagating family planning mainly on health and welfare grounds and as a means of reducing illegal abortions.
Chile, Columbia, Caribbeans and Central American countries have now adopted clearly anti-natalist policy. Brazil and Argentina still have policies encouraging high population growth.
About the population policies of China and Indonesia, a detailed account has already been given in the preceding paras.
Apart from these two countries, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal and Bangladesh have also well-designed population policies to reduce birth rates.
Countries of the South-West Asia and the newly created Central Asian republics (Kazakistan, Kirgizistan, Tajkistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) are encouraging the population growth. Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria have also gone for family planning. Israel continues to favour rapid growth of population. Saudi Arabia has outlawed the import of contraceptives.