Some countries are making progress towards more manageable populations. Bangladesh is one.
There has been sustained political support for family planning in the country. Just after independence in 1971, the government said that “no civilised measure would be too drastic” to keep the population, then 66 million, from rising beyond 150 million. (It did, however, reach 163 million in 2016).
The decline in the country’s fertility rate is a significant achievement in a densely populated, predominantly Muslim nation. In 1975, the average family size was 6.3 children; by 2017, this had come down to just over two.
An indication of this is that in 2004 stunting levels (impaired growth and brain development) in the population were as high as 51%. Over the last 10 years this has dropped to 36%, though this still means more than one-third of under fives are stunted.
Political commitments made a difference alongside support from civil society. Nutrition mattered too – in 2004, 34% of women had a low BMI, and by 2014 this had fallen to 19% – but the bigger picture is that with increased gender parity, women’s education and employment opportunities have improved and so have many health and economic indicators.