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Cover Poverty and Development

9. Population, Poverty, and Development  

Valeria Cetorelli and Alan Thomas

This chapter explores the relationship between population growth and poverty. There are differing views as to whether rapid population growth hinders economic growth and poverty reduction and whether there is a limit to the number of people the Earth can sustain. The 'revisionist' view is that on the contrary 'development is the best contraceptive' and it is poverty that keeps fertility high, while economic growth is not necessarily inhibited by rapid population growth. In this view, family planning is not an overriding priority but forms part of a rights-based agenda for providing access to reproductive health. The new consensus amongst analysts accepts that access to reproductive health, together with women's education and general improvements in health and living standards, remains the best route to lower fertility.