287. Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher)1

Management of Population Issues within the Department of State

The attached memorandum on global population growth and related developmental assistance programs suggests the need for a catalyst in the Department. At present, there seems to be a bureaucratic and jurisdictional issue involved. Ambassador Green has ideas but no money; AID has money and is not always responsive to Ambassador Green’s ideas; and there are blurred bureaucratic lines between Ambassador Green, Mrs. Mink and Mrs. Benson. Thus, some of the key players have been inhibited from taking a strong stand and moving forward.

One effective way to proceed might be for you to call together a few of the key actors in this field including Gov. Gilligan, Under Secretary Benson, Assistant Secretary Patsy Mink, and Ambassador Green to [Page 950] discuss where we ought to go substantively in this area and to set clear responsibilities for implementing action.

Gov. Gilligan has recently written to you and the Secretary2 about integrating our population programs with other components of our development assistance. Clearly, the responsibilities will have to be defined between AID and Ambassador Green’s office, with appropriate individuals knowing what areas or initiatives should be developed and by whom.

In addition, we would need to work with Congress and with the public to develop a better awareness of the problems of population growth, of their impact on development and of the need on the part of the US to support a meaningful and sustained program of developmental assistance aimed at reducing excessive population growth rates.

You may wish to assert a more direct interest yourself. Naturally, I and my staff are ready to assist you as you deem appropriate.


Briefing Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher) 3

Global Population Growth, Development for Human Needs and U.S. Policy

The following memorandum outlines current global population problems including implications for our development assistance programs. It also proposes specific steps toward a more effective strategy and suggests some North-South initiatives that we can take in the weeks and months ahead.

By the year 2000 the present world population of about 4 billion will grow to about 6.2 billion, with the developing world’s share of the total population increasing from 62 percent now to 78 percent by the end of the century, if present trends continue. Mexico, with perhaps the [Page 951] highest growth rate in the world, will double its population to 132 million. India will exceed one billion (610 million in 1976). Egypt will have 64 million (38 million today). The United States, by comparison, will have about 260 million.

Global population growth, more than any other single factor, is contributing to the lack of significant per capita income growth in the developing countries.

While per capita GDP in the LDCs grew at an average rate of 2.9 percent, the per capita increase in the lower-income countries, where 59 percent of the total LDC population lives, averaged only 0.9 percent during the 1971–75 period. Non-communist LDC per capita food production between 1961–74 did not increase at all due to population growth. There could be a doubling of food import requirements by the LDCs by the late 1980s, placing a major burden on our agricultural capabilities.

Population growth promises an even more turbulent setting for the conduct of international affairs. It also entails serious environmental costs for the entire world community, including degradation of soil, and desertification, as well as massive unemployment, and appalling living conditions for much of the developing world.

Two million people in Mexico City are living today in miserable shanty towns without sanitation and other services; and yet Mexico City, now at 11 million people, is projected to become the world’s largest urban agglomeration—32 million in the year 2000.

The sharpest reductions in birth rates over the past decade took place in LDCs that have experienced broad-based social and economic progress during the last three decades. There is ever-widening recognition that the best strategy for dealing with population growth is through a combination of family planning and other programs that tend to reduce birth rates, such as increased literacy, female education and employment, increasing farm income, community development and increased life expectancy largely through reduced infant mortality. Such components of development tend to influence people to want smaller families.

A “basic human needs” strategy on the part of the United States and other developed countries will be vitiated by population growth unless there are more effective efforts and programs to cope with the issue.

U.S. Policy

The basic U.S. policies to deal with world population are set forth in the NSSM–200 study and NSDM–314, which has now been reaf[Page 952]firmed. (See Tab 1 for NSDM–314 and summary of the NSSM–200 Study.)4

A key element in that policy is to concentrate our bilateral and multilateral population assistance efforts on 13 key larger and fast-growing countries of the developing world—India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, Philippines, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, and Ethiopia. The 13 together contribute an average of 34.3 million (or 47%) of the world’s annual population increase.

We now provide more than $140 million annually (FY–77) through AID for population assistance. This year about $103 million is going for bilateral programs in 34 countries and about $40 million is being provided multilaterally, mostly to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). But our assistance is still too little, too dispersed and not as effective as it might be. Moreover, even though we must place greater focus on supporting the population programs of 13 of the biggest LDC population countries (excluding China which has its own highly effective programs), several of those countries are uninterested or ineffective in carrying out programs and in several others our aid must be channeled exclusively through multilateral agencies.

Legislative Branch interest and support in this field is strong. Congress has also recognized (Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended) that “US assistance should be used in support of, rather than in substitution for, the self-help efforts that are essential to successful development programs and shall be concentrated in those countries that take positive steps to help themselves.” Congress is nevertheless sensitive about anything smacking of coercion or which relates to abortions.

An Effective Global Population Strategy

The USG Task Force on Population Policy headed by Ambassador Marshall Green has concluded that successful population programs require: (a) leadership commitment; (b) integrating family planning into community development and village life; (c) training indigenous paramedics to provide comprehensive health, nutritional and family planning services and (d) improving the status of women. Together with a developmental strategy which influences people to have smaller fam[Page 953]ilies, this approach can significantly improve the actual conditions of life of the poorest, especially those in rural areas.

Most importantly, a developmental strategy which is aimed at strengthening community structures supports a number of important goals: (a) reducing economic and social inequality, (b) fostering local democratic processes by involving community institutions in self-help programs, (c) improved health and productivity as well as (d) population growth reduction. Community involvement in such “self-help” efforts also provides peer pressures or values which promote improved quality of life and smaller families. This approach must, however, be part of an integrated national developmental plan with strong government support.

A firm commitment by the United States towards the above goals and accompanying strategy would also contribute towards a sensitive North-South plan of cooperation focusing on real needs and away from empty ideological posturing. Such a program also strengthens our human rights efforts since strong and active local communities are vital in promoting participation processes at the grass-roots level. Since the strategy also emphasizes national leadership and the mobilization of indigenous resources, it ensures that what aid we do provide fully relates to the receiving country’s own program and priorities. It also comports with the above-cited Congressional precepts.

Perhaps the key in our promoting effective population policies in the developing world is to obtain the support and commitment of their national leaders for a sustained and effective effort to reduce excessive population growth. Success in this area is vital for progress. Yet we have not always used our high-level influence to this end in many key countries.

Action and Initiatives for the US

We need to pursue a comprehensive and well-coordinated USG global population strategy which takes into consideration all of these problems and possible responses. There is particular need for a better coordination of our diplomatic and developmental assistance efforts. This is a matter you may wish to discuss with Gov. Gilligan as well as other key officials, followed by specific instructions to our Ambassadors and AID Directors.

At each suitable occasion, formal and informal, we should raise the population issue with LDC leaders and relevant heads of international institutions and donor programs, helping develop an awareness of the new directions in our assistance strategy. Such talks should embrace population issues, although the focus would be on all the components of development that improve conditions of life for the masses.

[Page 954]

Special high-level initiatives by the President and Secretary would be helpful in moving forward the basic population strategy outlined above. Such initiatives could include:

—Taking advantage of meetings with other leaders to discuss this issue frankly (and perhaps informally) in order to have the benefits of their views and to see how we can be most helpful in the context of their needs, institutions and purposes.

—Pressing, in planning for the UN Third Development Decade,5 goals of basic health, family planning and nutritional services for the poorest, utilizing indigenous institutions and paramedical personnel.

—Proposing a major expansion of our multilateral funding of UNFPA with the understanding that the bulk of funds would be provided to key countries including India, Egypt, and Mexico. (We would, however, seek major increases in contributions from other donor countries, especially Japan and the FRG.)

—Sending a high-level Presidential or Secretarial Mission to discuss developmental and population issues with key leaders of selected LDC countries, including offers of additional long-term assistance for specific programs.

—Develop intensive “model” programs in a few countries utilizing local community structures for delivery of basic services, with minimum long-term outside help, which could be expanded in other areas if successful.

—Integrate our food assistance programs into comprehensive projects with relevance to population growth.

—Make a high-level effort with the IBRD and the regional development banks to place more emphasis on population-relevant programs including family planning.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 17, TL SENSITIVE 4/1–6/30/77. Confidential; Personal. Drafted by Blaney on June 29. A notation on the first page of the memorandum reads: “Only memo went to line for distrib.”
  2. Not found.
  3. Confidential. Drafted by Blaney on June 29.
  4. Attached but not printed at Tab 1 are NSDM 314 and “Outline of Main Analysis and Recommendations of NSSM 200 Study.” Regarding NSDM 314, see footnote 3, Document 280. NSSM 200, issued on April 24, 1974, directed the NSC Under Secretaries Committee to undertake a study on the impact of worldwide population growth. It is published as Document 113, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–14, Part 1, Documents on the United Nations, 1973–1976. A summary of the NSSM 200 study is Document 118, ibid.
  5. See footnote 5, Document 263.