121. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford, Washington, October 16, 1975.1 2

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October 16, 1975


FROM: Henry A. Kissinger

SUBJECT: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests: NSSM 200

NSSM 200 directed a study by the NSC Under Secretaries Committee of the impact of world population growth on US security and overseas interests. The study was to provide possible courses of action for the United States in dealing with population matters abroad (Tab C) .

In response to NSSM 200, the Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee has forwarded for your consideration a report on world population that recommends a US global population strategy (Tab B) In a covering memorandum the Chairman highlights the findings and recommendations of the study:


--The UN medium population projection forecasts world population growth from 3.9 billion today to 6.4 billion by the year 2000 and over 11 billion by 2050. This is a relatively optimistic projection, and holding growth within these limits will require an international population control effort; Regional imbalances of growth will be severe with the greatest population growth in the poor countries;

--Perhaps the most serious challenge from both a humanitarian and a national interest viewpoint would be adequacy of world food supplies for the developing countries as populations press against limits of available land, water, capital and resources inputs;

--Excessive population growth holds back economic development and social progress, bringing on frustrations and tensions leading to instability .


--Support of the UN Population Plan of Action adopted at the Bucharest, Rumania Conference, plus a global target of replacement fertility levels by the year 2000;

--Engagement of the developing countries themselves and their political leaders in efforts to moderate population growth;

--A bilateral and multilateral assistance strategy giving priority to thirteen key countries which contribute almost half the present population growth;

--Delivery of family planning information and services to all and increased funding for AID’s population control programs;

--Increased funding and support for a worldwide effort for research in human reproduction;

--US participation with other donor countries and UN agencies in a cooperative endeavor to develop systems for the delivery of basic health services, including family planning, to poorer countries;

--A major worldwide effort of education about population growth and family planning;

--Increased provision for food aid, stockpiling for shortages and agricultural assistance (our food policy is being actively addressed separately in the followup to the US-initiated World Food Conference .)

The Chairman’s summary recognizes that population control policy requires both high level attention and continuing review and updating. It observes that US efforts must be undertaken in such a way as to minimize criticism that they are directed against the interests of the developing countries . Above all, the problem must be recognized by the developing countries themselves . Thus, as the NSSM 200 directive indicated, the objective of the United States is to work closely with others rather than seek to impose our views on them.

The USC Chairman recommends that you endorse the proposed global population strategy summarized above. Because this strategy involves complex and difficult questions, including questions relating to political and security interests, and because a number of different agencies of the government have an interest in this matter, the Under Secretaries Committee, with the exception of AID, also recommends that you assign to that Committee responsibility for the monitoring of policy aspects of implementation of the strategy, for conducting an annual review of progress and for recommending to you any significant changes that may be needed. AID recommends that this responsibility be assigned to the Development Coordination Committee, chaired by the AID Administrator.

In response to the Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee’s memorandum to you, and the NSSM 200 study, I recommend you authorize issuance of a NSDM that:

-- confirms that US leadership is essential in world population matters;

-- endorses the policy recommendations contained in the Executive Summary of the NSSM 200 response, with the following observations and exceptions:

--care must be taken that our AID program efforts are not so diffuse as to have little impact upon those countries contributing the largest growth in population;

--there should be an examination of past and present US population control programs to determine those approaches that are the most cost effective in reducing population growth and recommendations should be made as appropriate on revised priorities suggested by the examination;

--a review should be undertaken quickly to examine specific recommendations for funding in the population assistance and family planning field for the period after FY 1976;

--in this regard, there should be a detailed analysis of the recommended funding levels in the NSSM 200 study, bearing in mind the desire to advance population control goals;

--this analysis should include the appropriate level of funding of multilateral programs;

--strong emphasis should be placed on encouraging leaders of key developing countries to support population assistance programs. You underscore that the objective of the US is to work closely with others rather than to seek to impose our views on others, and that in all efforts we recognize the basic dignity of the individual and his or her right to freely choose family goals and family planning alternatives;

--the recommendation contained in paragraph 21(c) of the Executive Summary dealing with the announcement of a United States national population goal is outside the purview of the scope of NSSM 200, but the Under Secretaries Committee, in conjunction with all appropriate agencies of the Executive Branch, may wish to make further recommendations to the President on the subject;

--implementation of a US worldwide population strategy will involve careful coordination -- the response to NSSM 200 study is a good beginning , but that there is a need for further examination of the mix of US assistance strategy and its most efficient application;

--the Chairman, NSC Under Secretaries Committee, is assigned the responsibility to define and develop policy in the population field and to coordinate its implementation beyond the NSSM 200 response, and is to submit to you an initial report within six months from the date of the NSDM on the implementation of this policy, with recommendations for any modification in our strategy, funding programs, and, particularly, the identification of possible deficiencies . There would be a requirement for annual reports thereafter;

--the Chairman is authorized to request other appropriate bodies and agencies to assist him in this task as required. For the purpose of implementing this NSDM, the Under Secretaries Committee should include, ex officio, representatives of the following agencies: Council of Environmental Quality; Office of Management and Budget; President’s Science Adviser. OMB and CEQ concur in the draft NSDM.


That you authorize me to issue the DM on the World Population Policy at Tab A,

Approve [signed GRF] Disapprove


Tab A - Proposed NSDM

Tab B - Report on world population, forwarded by the Deputy Secretary of State on December 14, 1974

Tab C - NSSM 200, April 24, 1974, which directed the study on world population growth and implications for US security and overseas interests

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 63, NSDM 314 (3). Confidential. Sent for action. Tab A, as signed, is published as Document 122. Tab B is published as Document 118. Tab C is published as Document 113.
  2. Kissinger recommended the issuance of a National Security Decision Memorandum on population policy. Ford initialed his approval.