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UN: Developing Countries Can Overcome Poverty with Family Planning - 2002-12-03

A U.N. study says that developing countries can overcome poverty with family planning, national health programs, and improved education. The findings are in a new U.N. world population report.

The U.N. report studied the growth of East Asia's so-called "tiger" economies, and found many benefits from family planning. The director of the U.N. Population Fund, Thoraya Obaid, explained the findings at a London news conference.

"Developing countries that have invested in family planning, smaller families, and slower population growth have achieved higher productivity, more savings, and more productive investment," she said. "Fertility declines accounted for one-fifth of the economic growth in East Asia between 1960 and 1995."

The report says the world is spending about $11 billion annually on population control, $6 billion less than what has been pledged.

The United States this year has withheld $34 million from the U.N. Population Fund, called the UNFPA, saying the agency indirectly promotes abortion in China.

Ms. Obaid denies the assertions. She says a team of State Department investigators went to China and cleared her agency of any wrongdoing.

"They came back with a report that said there is no evidence whatsoever that UNFPA is involved in any coercive population {programs]in the countries where we work," she said. "And they recommended the release of the funding, but the administration has chosen to go against the recommendation."

The U.N. estimates the world's population will rise from six billion, to nearly 9.5 billion by mid-century, and almost all of the growth will be in the world's poorest countries.