Why So Many Children?
In many of the developing countries in Africa and Asia , the population is growing fast . The reason for this is simple : Women in these countries have a high birth rate — from 3.0 to 7.0 children per woman . The majority of these women are poor , without the food or resources to care for their families ? The answer may be that they often have no choice . There are several reasons for this .
One reason is economic . In a traditional agricultural economy , large families are helpful .
Having more children means having more workers in the fields and someone to take care of the parents in old age1. In an industrial economy, the situation is different. Many children , do not help a family; instead, they are an expense. Thus, industrialization has generally brought down the birth rate. This was the case in Italy, which was industrialized quite recently and rapidly. In the early part of the twentieth century, Italy was a poor, largely agricultural country with a high birth rate. After World WarⅡ, Italy's economy was rapidly modernized and industrialized. By the end of the century, the birth rate had dropped to 1. 3 children per woman, the world's lowest.
However, the economy is not the only important factor that influences birth rate. Saudi Arabia, for example, does not have an agriculture-based economy, and it has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Nevertheless, it also has a very high birth rate(7.0). Mexico and Indonesia, on the other hand, are poor countries, with largely agricultural economies, but they have recently reduced their population growth.
Clearly, other factors are involved. The most important of these is the condition of women. A high birth rate almost always goes together with lack of education and low status for women.2 This would explain the high birth rate of Saudi Arabia. There, the traditional culture gives women little education or independence and few possibilities outside the home. On the other hand, the improved condition of women in Mexico, Thailand, and Indonesia explains the decline in birth rates in these countries. Their governments have taken measures to provide more education and opportunities for women.
Another key factor in the birth rate is birth control. Women may want to limit their families but have no way to do so. In countries where governments have made birth control easily available and inexpensive, birth rates have gone down. This is the case in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and India, as well as in Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, and Brazil. In these countries, women have also been provided with health care and help in planning their families.
These trends show that an effective program to reduce population growth does not have to depend on better economic conditions.3 It can be effective if it aims to help women and meet their needs. Only then, in fact, does it have any real chance of success.
1. In a traditional agricultural economy, large families are helpful. Having more children means having more workers in the fields and someone to take care of the parents in old age. 传统的农业经济中，家庭成员数目多是十分有利的。孩子多意味着田里的劳动力多且有人给父母养老。
2. A high birth rate almost always goes together with lack of education and low status for women. 高的生育率往往与妇女缺乏教育与社会地位低下相关。
3. These trends show that an effective program to reduce population growth does not have to depend on better economic conditions. 这些趋势表明有效的控制人口的方案并不依赖于良好的经济状况。
1. In a traditional agricultural economy, a large family_______.
A. can be an advantage
B. may limit income
C. isn’t necessary
D. is expensive
2. When countries become industrialized, _______.
A. families often become larger
B. the birth rate generally goes down
C. women usually decide not have a family
D. the population generally grows rapidly
3. According to this passage, Italy today is an example of an _______.
A. agricultural country with a high birth rate
B. agricultural country with a low birth rate
C. industrialized country with a low birth rate
D. industrialized country with a high birth rate
4. Saudi Arabia is mentioned in the passage because it shows that _______.
A. the most important factor influencing birth rate is the economy
B. factors other than the economy influence birth rate
C. women who have a high income usually have few children
D. the birth rate depends on per capita income
5. In Mexico, Thailand, and Indonesia, the government _______.
A. is not concerned about the status of women
B. has tried to industrialize the country rapidly
C. does not allow women to work outside the home
D. has tried to improve the condition of women