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Building a better population
Release time:2013-09-26 15:32   Author:本站编辑   Origin: Chinadaily   Browse the number:186

 

Half a century ago, the world was warned of the imminent explosion of "the population bomb". There were fears that humanity would suffer mass starvation and societies would plunge into turmoil - all because of overpopulation.
At that time, Asia was considered to be at the core of the population problem. The average woman in Asia could expect to bear five children. The region's population was projected to double within 33 years.
Many countries responded to the problem by embarking on programs to control population growth. The landmark 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, attended by representatives of 179 governments, shifted the discourse on "population control" to people-centred development.
The ICPD Programme of Action established, for the first time, inseparable linkages between population and development policies, with a clear focus on sexual and reproductive health from the standpoint of human rights - in particular the rights of women and families to decide freely whether and when to have children.
The probability of every child surviving to adulthood was greatly increased. Families acquired better knowledge of sexual and reproductive health. Many more were given the means to make informed decisions about their fertility.
The Asia-Pacific region can be proud of its successes: An average woman today has about two children instead of five. Life expectancy has increased dramatically. Fifty years ago, the average person could expect to live until the age of 45. Today a woman can expect to live to the age of 72 and a man to 68. Almost as many girls as boys enter primary school.
But success comes with new challenges. The concern today is not just about population. Rather, it is about the complex inter-linkages between population and development. Putting people first to build better lives must remain the focus of efforts to address the population and development challenges that the Asia-Pacific region faces.
Increased life expectancy and lower fertility rates have resulted in rapid population aging in the region that is unprecedented in human history. Some countries are at the risk of becoming old before they become rich. The population of older people will triple by 2050 to reach 1.2 billion. In East Asia, one in every three people will be aged 60 or above.
Furthermore, by 2050, there will be only 3.5 working people to support one older person, as compared with 10 working people today. There is thus an urgent need for the region to prepare for aging societies.
While the opportunity for the demographic dividend has passed in some countries, in others there is still an opportunity to harness its potential. In South Asia, about half of the population is still below the age of 25. With the appropriate mix of policies, including job-led growth and effective school-to-work transition, it will be possible to reap the youth dividend.
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