Population Control


"Overpopulation" is often proclaimed as the root of all global problems. Journalists and public policy experts claim that crises ranging from civil war in Rwanda to deforestation in the Amazon are the result of overpopulation. CWPE challenges the dominant representations of population, which are largely simplistic and ahistorical, ignoring the political and economic causes of poverty, environmental degradation, and conflict such as the legacy of colonialism, militarism and corporate greed.

CWPE exposes the people, philosophies, funding and politics behind such analyses. Most demographically-driven population control policies and programs are deeply disrespectful of women, particularly women of color and their children. Such policies disempower women; they treat women as objects of control, and violate the basic feminist tenets of reproductive choice and bodily integrity. We direct attention to the roots of poverty, patriarchy, and environmental destruction, and work with progressive movements to find socially just solutions.

CWPE Analysis on Population Control
Proposing Alternatives to Secondary School Curricula on Population
Currently much of the material in mainstream US textbooks presents a simplistic view of 'overpopulation' as the cause of poverty and environmental degradation, reinforcing cultural and racial stereotypes of poor people in the Third World. It also accepts the use of coercion in population control programs in countries such as India and China, ignoring important ethical issues of reproductive choice. In order to encourage the introduction of more complex, gendered, and culturally sensitive analyses of population and the environment into secondary school social studies curricula in the United States, CWPE has undertaken this project in collaboration with the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College to survey currently available mainstream and alternative curricular materials, and to assess the need for further curriculum development.
Contact Hampshire College's Civil Liberty & Public Policy Program for the following articles:
  • Demography or Teaching Fear: The Population Problem in U.S. and U.K. Social Studies Textbooks, by Anne Hendrixson

  • The Industrious Europeans and the Hungry Third World Masses: The Story of Population Told by U.S. High School Social Studies Textbooks, by Anne Hendrixson (based on research by Laura Agustín)

  • Are People a Good Thing? How British Social Studies Textbooks Present Population Issues, by Susan Bullock Leather

  • The Problem of Population in U.S. High School Biology Textbooks, by Syd Lindsley

Opposition to “Day of Six Billion”
Opposition to the Formation of a National Optimum Population Commission
Debunking Demographic Alarmism
CWPE educates population and environmental organizations on the problems of using demographic alarmism and rationales in explaining the causes of global problems. CWPE is working to produce a visual report for activist use, with analysis of demographically driven metaphors and messages produced in recent campaigns such as "Day of Six Billion," or "PLANet." It will explain why such metaphors dangerously exploit existing racism and xenophobia, and could lead to coercive population control measures.

More Resources On Population Control

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