The Paradox of Poverty: Socio-Economic Aspects of Population Growth.— By T. Scarlett Epstein and Darrell Jackson. The Macmillan of India Limited Delhi, 1975. pp.127.

M. Javed Akbar Zaki


To many social theoreticians, the population explosion,
particularly in the developing nations presents a crippling threat to
their developmental pro¬cesses. Their argument's validity rests mainly
on the assumption that expected economic progress is swallowed up by
unbalanced rise of numbers in the population. The book being reviewed
deals mainly with this subject matter and is divided into two parts,
each containing three articles contributed by various researchers. Part
one, 'The Social context of Fertility Decision' is focused on analyzing
the role of factors affecting fertility at the micro-level decision
making process. The first article 'Fertility decision in rural India' by
Vinod Jainath, examines the applicability to rural India of various
models of the process of fertility decision making and finds most of
these wanting with respect to the Indian social situation. While
analyzing the fertility patterns of Rural India, he points out the
positive need for larger families among the poor small farmers mainly
due to labour supply considerations. The author argues that unemployment
and under¬employment actually motivate the poor to have more children as
it better ensures their economic security in their old age. As the
chances of gaining employ¬ment for their offspring diminish, they are
induced to increase the total number of children in order that atleast
one will be able to support them. Thus a vicious circle of poverty
arises in large families because of each of the parents wanting to
increase their children's chances of employment by ultimately reducing
the overall employment opportunities even further and exacerbating their

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