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December 7, 1970

Fertility Control—When?

JAMA. 1970;214(10):1878. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180100068012

The worldwide worry about population growth has received its full share of publicity. It is evident that if the "steady state" advocated by Dubos1 is to be achieved in the United States, the time for action is now. In considering the "perfect contraceptive" population—a condition in which there would be about 2.25 births per woman and a zero rate of population growth—Bumpass and Westoff2 note that the population would continue to increase for at least 65 years and amount to a growth of 40% to 50%.

The latter authors see no probability of zero growth rate in the near future and therefore focus attention on the elimination of unwanted fertility. They estimate that one fifth of all births and more than one third of Negro births between 1960 and 1965 were unwanted—a total of 4.7 million births that would have been prevented by "perfect contraception." They conclude that