The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK.—I have just received a pamphlet entitled "And Now Billions of Dollars for Asia, Boom or Boomerang." The pamphlet discusses the question of overpopulation, which is one that scientists have been debating for a long time. They are now anxious to bring the question before the general public. Although information can be obtained from the Population Reference in Washington, D.C., this bureau has insufficient funds to carry on a real information campaign which would reach all the people of the United States.

The crucial question, of course, is whether in increasing the health and longevity of people in underdeveloped areas we are really accomplishing a permanent good unless at the same time we make it possible for them to remain healthy and strong in the future. Both U.N. aid and our aid will help to develop underdeveloped areas in Africa and Asia; and the trend, as people become better off, is a lowering in population. But there is an interim period when this is not true, and unless one can control the increase in population people will perhaps be even more hungry than they are now.

The pamphlet says that our program and the U.N. program of aid "is motivated by humanitarian considerations. It aims to win the battle against human hunger and misery. But it is also motivated by political considerations. The Administration will use it as a weapon in the cold war. As long as two-thirds of the people in these countries go to sleep hungry every night the odds favor Communism. The loss of the rest of Asia to Communism, currently threatened, would tip the balance against the free world, with more than half the free world behind the Iron Curtain ... Well conceived as the Administration's aid program is as a means of preserving peace, it is doomed to failure if it disregards the present unprecedented population explosion in the aided countries."

The pamphlet goes on to say that they do not ask for less aid to go to Asia and Africa, but they ask for it to be tied in with an education program and research would would meet the need of individual nations for population control.

Our own economic aid program has been somewhat sacrificed to military aid of late. But there are signs that the Administration is beginning to realize that Communism has shifted its tactics so that economic aid may perhaps be more essential than military aid. There are areas of the world in which control of population may prove difficult for religious reasons. Still, even the various religions today are facing the problem of uncontrolled population realistically, and it may be possible through research and education to meet this problem which is so well brought out by those who have been studying world population in relation to food production and distribution.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 23, 1956

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.