Birth Control Article Critique Requirements
Is birth control one of Uganda’s biggest challenges?
Please follow the directions in the file uploaded carefully. Please CITE all the specified references. Please follow this link to view the article you are required to analyze
Ray, Debraj, Development Economics, Chapter 9.3, Read section 9.3.3 (pp. 307-317)
Gary Becker. A Treatise on the Family. Ch 5: Fertility. Cambridge, MA, 1991. Read pp. 135-140 and 145-149.
Perkins, et al., Ch.7 "Population" in Economics of Development, 7th edition, 2013. (Read only 245-253)
Uganda Should Adopt Birth Control for Development
Uganda’s total population is close to 30 million people. This figure is expected to quadruple in the next few decades. This high population growth rate it has made it virtually impossible to eradicate poverty in the country. The government is however indifferent about the issue. The country’s considerable economic growth rate is not adequate to match the needs of the rapidly growing population. The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, has given a deaf year to rising concerns of the western world about the current state of affairs. He argues that the country’s population growth is justified because Uganda is roughly the same size as the United Kingdom which has twice the population of Uganda.
Museveni’s policy on birth control frustrates those with a keen interest in improving the health of women and children. It is the norm for women in Uganda to have more than ten children. Five children seem like a modest number for most families. Attempts by non-governmental organizations to sensitize the citizens on family planning have been futile. This move has met a lot of resistance from the locals and the Catholic Church. The government does not also provide for family planning in the health service sector because of its stance on the matter. Education is vital for girls in order to sensitize them on the importance of family planning. Education will also go a long way in empowering girls and women to have a say in childbearing decisions.
Analysis of Uganda’s Birth Control Problem
The assumption that Uganda’s population will quadruple in the next few decades due the high birth rate is not very accurate. Brett points out that there is a very high birth rate in Uganda. The author also dwells on the fact that the major reason for the rapid population is ignorance and reluctance to use family planning methods which results in higher birth rates (Guardian). What they fail to take into account is that Uganda is a poor developing country so the death rate is also equally higher. There is also a high infant and child mortality rate (Debraj 310). In the long run the net population growth rate will not be as high as it has been projected. The projection of future population should also take the death rate into account. Furthermore, population growth would lead to declining real wages due to the rising cost of food. People will become poor, therefore limiting their ability to afford proper health care and sanitation. This will also fuel the death rate hence keeping the population in check.
President Museveni’s argument that Uganda’s population growth is justified is flawed. Even though the two countries may occupy almost the same land mass, they have different Gross domestic products (GDP). The UK, being a first world country, obviously has the larger GDP compared to Uganda which is a developing country. Even with double the population of Uganda the UK still has a greater income per capita than Uganda. Increasing Uganda’s population would only worsen the situation. President Museveni might however be right according to Boserup who argued that population growth, especially increasing population density, leads to agricultural innovation (Lecture 2, 27). This might be beneficial because several parts of Uganda still practice subsistence farming and the rapid increase in population might intensify commercial farming and result in several innovations in the agricultural sector. Museveni’s perspective is also backed by Kuznets (1960) and Kremer (1993) who suggest that a larger population implies faster technological progress (Lecture 2, 29).
It has also been argued that the key to controlling the high population growth rate is female education. Female education not only raises awareness in contraceptive methods but also effectively reduces the demand for children. The major assumption here is that children are produced using two inputs, time and goods that can be purchased in the market (Becker 138). This can be expressed as n = f (x, k) where k is the mother’s time available for childbearing and x are the goods purchased. The mother’s time can either be used for studying and working or taking care of children i.e. T = L + k where L is the number of hours devoted to working or taking care of children and T is the total time available which is fixed (Lesson 4, 30). If girls are educated they will “have a higher opportunity cost of time and choose to have fewer children” (Perkins, Radelet and Lindauer 245). Prolonged periods in school will also delay the onset of childbearing. Moreover, when girls are educated they become empowered to get jobs that take up most of their time hence reducing the time for bearing and taking care of children.
On the other hand, contraceptives that are majorly aimed at reducing birth rates may not achieve the desired results. This is because the population is majorly composed of the young population therefore the reduction of fertility rates may not necessarily reduce the birth rate. “The sheer inertia of age distribution guarantees that young people of reproductive age continue to enter into the population” (Debraj 307). Moreover, contraceptives are shunned because people view children as security in old age. Having fewer children reduces the probability of having someone to support you in old age. The situation is worsened by the preference for boys which potentially doubles the number of children one wants to have (Lesson 4, 24).
To conclude, the rapid population growth in Uganda needs to be controlled in order to alleviate poverty. Although there are a few advantages of growth in population, it should not be allowed to get out of hand as this will render it impossible to eradicate poverty. For effective population control, girls need to be educated to sensitize them on contraceptive methods and also to empower them. Education reduces the time available for childbearing and effectively reduces the demand for children. Apart from contraceptives, health care should be improved to reduce the child and infant mortality rate which will reduce the demand for children because they have higher chances of survival.
Becker, Gary S. A treatise on the family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991.
Debraj, Ray. Development Economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Guardian, The. Is birth control one of Uganda’s biggest challenges? 26 April 2013 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/katineblog/2008/jul/11/isbirthcontroloneofuganda
Perkins, Dwight H., et al. Economic Development. New York, N.Y: Norton & Co, 2001.