LIFE WITHOUT BIRTH by Stanley Johnson

LIFE WITHOUT BIRTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

World Bank agricultural economist Johnson is dispatched by the U.S. United Nations Association to inspect the state of family planning in Brazil, Chile, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, and Kenya. At each stopover he reports on the airport, hotel, officials' wives, etc. The programs and problems of local family planners are summed up with impressionistic data, casual evaluation and offhand comparison with other countries. Population pressure is invoked as a cause of the Vietnam war, while an AID official in Thailand compares population control with counterinsurgency efforts: ""We're just trying to stop the little bastards from getting through."" Japan is a ""demographic miracle"" of stabilized growth; India's mass sterilization and contraception programs are detailed. Thence to Nepal to inspect ""the Chinese problem"": Johnson says the government is not prohibiting family planning but not encouraging it either (though recent eyewitness Jan Myrdal found they have a ""marry late"" and ""two is enough"" policy). Reaching home, Johnson warns that ""the verdict of the sybil, the vatic utterance, is rewarded far beyond the shores of the Third World."" Advanced nations beware!? Given his specialized background, it is surprising that Johnson fails to support his premise that ""people are the problem,"" an omission which bypasses problems of agricultural productivity and helps deny the book status as a significant addition to current population debates. A report on world population growth by the U.N. Association of the U.S. is appended.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1970
Publisher: Little, Brown