Letter: Parenthood taxes not the answer to population problems

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Sir Roy Calne's concern about overpopulation does him credit, but child licences and tax penalties are supremely irrelevant in the remoter parts of India or Africa where government is usually conspicuous by its absence, and ignorance and the needs of the moment take priority.

The real solutions are more boring: long-term development, leading to fewer child deaths - and thus to increased confidence in the survival to adulthood of a smaller family - and making family planning available to all (without which Professor Calne's proposals will not work anyway). About one third of Third World pregnancies are unwanted as it is - taxing them will not help.

It is urgent that overpopulation be addressed now. The world is in a stage of transition to an ultimate stable population, but action now or lack of it - can make the difference between the final figure being 8-10 billion, or 15-20 billion. But it has to be the right action.

Yours faithfully,


London, N13

10 August