LAHORE - Public awareness and easy access to quality contraceptives will not be enough to control population growth as there are other issues not falling in the purview of Population Welfare Department.

Lack of economic resources to the extent of nearly half of the population living below poverty line and poor literacy rate are major factors causing rapid population growth.

Population Welfare Department’s own data suggest that lack of female education and poverty are major hurdles in bridling ever increasing population growth.

Fertility rate decreases with the increase in education and economic empowerment of women.

The poorest class woman on average bear 5.2 children in lifetime and the fertility rate decrease with increase in economic resources. On average, lower middle class woman give birth to 4.4 children during child bearing age, middle class 3.8 and better off 3.4 while the rich class woman bear 2.7 children during lifetime.

As such fertility rate has direct link with economic resources of a family. The reason behind the poorest families having more children could be thinking that ‘more hands will earn more money’.

Like the economic resources, female education is the factor directly affecting fertility rate, it decreases with the increase in education.  On average, an uneducated woman gives birth to more than five children. From that, fertility rate decreases with increase in education and on average a highly educated woman (PhD) gives birth to two children during child bearing age.

Lack of economic resources cause a family to deprive girls of education and look for early match. Early marriage, even before a girl reaching 18th birthday, cause early bearing of child, a major risk factor in maternal mortality. Giving birth to too many children (four or more), less space between births (less than 36 months) and bearing a child too late (35 years or above) are other factor causing high maternal mortality.

Dr Tauseef Ahmed, Country Representative Pathfinder International, accepted poverty and lack of female education major hurdles in controlling population growth rate. At a workshop recently held at a local hotel, he stressed the need of government ownership of family planning initiatives and political will at the highest level for checking population growth rate.

He said poverty reduction is effective with fertility decline. He shared contribution of factors affecting fertility decline. Female education contributes 33 percent, family planning 30 percent, social factors 20 percent and economy 17 percent. Social factors include status of women, age at marriage, sex preference, demand for family size and social and religious pressure.

He said that female education, empowerment and reduction in poverty, family planning, social and cultural support to spacing in births and smaller families were major factors that could help lowering population growth.