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Useful quotes from the new director of the UN DESA Population Division

Posted by Dan Blackman on 30 January 2013

Professor John R. Wilmoth has been appointed as the new director of the population division within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. You can read about what DESA is and does here.

The Population Division provides support to intergovernmental bodies such as the Commission on Population and Development, monitors the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in relation to reproductive health (which is used as both a technical term and a euphemism for abortion) and contraception, and publishes data and studies on population trends. It has a leading role in the global abortion lobby. You can read more about the Population Division within DESA and its reports here.

It was interesting to read the interview on the DESA website with the new director, as he made several comments on population that pro-lifers will find helpful to cite. Sadly there are many myths perpetrated in the media and by population control advocates, who seek to justify the imposition of contraception, sterilisation, and abortion upon economically poor developing countries by claiming "the world is overpopulated".

Interview extract

Q. You have authored and co-authored a great number of scientific papers on population dynamics; were there any findings that you found surprising?

A. Demographers often make projections of future population trends and can be surprised when reality diverges from their forecasts – but that is the nature of this business. An earlier generation of demographers was surprised by the extremely rapid growth of populations in the decades after the Second World War, which was caused by the Baby Boom in industrialized countries and by very rapid reductions of mortality in the less developed regions. For my generation I suppose the two biggest surprises have been the phenomenal speed and depth of fertility decline, and the persistent increase of human longevity.

Fertility levels have fallen substantially in most regions, far beyond what most observers expected 50 years ago. As a result, population growth has slowed considerably in many of the world’s largest countries, especially in Asia (though of course much less so in Sub-Saharan Africa). In many parts of Europe and East Asia, fertility is now well below two children per woman, and some populations have started to shrink in size. Such low fertility accelerates the process of population ageing, with substantial implications for government budgets given the high costs of old-age pensions and medical care.

Mortality trends have offered surprises too. Fifty years ago many observers believed that human longevity was reaching an upper limit, since by then most deaths (at least in the more developed regions) were due to diseases of old age. Since around 1970, however, death rates at older ages in many countries have been falling at an unprecedented rate. Reductions have been rapid in particular for deaths due to heart disease and stroke.

I expect that demographers will continue to be surprised by trends that do not follow our prior expectations. It is for this reason that the Population Division has worked hard in recent years to be more explicit and precise about the degree of uncertainty affecting projections of future population trends.”

Maternal health & Fertility

The important points here include rapid reductions in mortality, and an increase in human longevity. These are good things that have contributed to people living longer and healthier lives.

Wilmoth also speaks about the substantial decline in human fertility which has led to ageing populations and below replacement fertility levels resulting in shrinking populations.  Unfortunately, pro-abortion organisations remain intent on preventing children from being born by use of abortion, all the while claiming that there needs to be fewer children because of so-called over population.

SPUC has been running a campaign on maternal health since last year, which is closely tied in with issues of development and population trends.

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