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'Worsening Plight of the Hungry'

April 24, 1985

Kostmayer's article expresses my own feelings regarding Helms' misguided efforts to alleviate suffering and improve human conditions around the world.

Overpopulation, Kostmayer points out, is a cause of hunger and famine. A little-known fact is that hunger and famine also contribute to overpopulation. At no time in history has a country reduced its birthrate before it reduced its death rate. When the death rate is reduced, a period of increased population does occur, but fortunately this period is followed by a drop in birthrate. People tend to have fewer children when they become more confident that their existing children will survive.

History has shown in the era since World War II that when overall death rates drop to around 15 per 1,000--which is about where it is in developing countries now-- then each additional fall of one point in the death rate has usually been accompanied by an even larger fall in the birthrate. Thailand's 7-point fall in death rate (15 to 8 per 1,000) between 1960 and 1980 was accompanied by a 14-point fall in the birthrate. In the same time period, Costa Rica's 5-point fall in death rate (10 to 5 per 1,000) was accompanied by an 18-point fall in the birthrate.

In order to stabilize the population of the world, we must first reduce the number of people who die of hunger and disease. The next step is to encourage family planning in order to shorten the time lag between falling death rates and falling birthrates.

L. JOYCE MOORE

Altadena

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