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Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
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Population
  

Population

Top: Jerry Cans; Middle: Refugee camp in Chad; Bottom: Refugee mother with babies. [State Dept. Photos]What are the issues?

Demographers at the United Nations estimate that the world’s population of 6.5 billion people is growing by roughly 1.2% annually, and will pass the nine billion mark by 2050. The largest generation of youth in human history is on the way. In many parts of the world, people living in the countryside have moved to the cities, pushing urban areas far beyond their capacity.

Yet in some parts of the world, population growth rates are declining, with a few countries even experiencing negative growth rates. Many societies are aging, and in some nations the increasing proportion of elderly in the population is placing pressure on existing public sector pension systems and social welfare programs. These dynamics pose challenges for governments. International migration may help to mitigate the effects of population aging in some countries, but cannot completely compensate for it.

What are the department's goals?

The goal of U.S. policy in this field is to promote healthy and educated populations. The U.S. does not endorse population "stabilization" or "control." The "ideal" family size should be determined by the desires of couples, not governments. All decisions on the number, spacing, and timing of children should be made without coercion; the U.S. strongly opposes coercive population programs.

What is the policy? 

The Bureau takes the lead for the Department of State on matters related to international population policy, working closely with the Bureau for International Organizations, the US Agency for International Development, and other government agencies. The Bureau also represents the U.S. on the governing bodies of relevant international and multilateral organizations, such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD).

The United States government does not give funds to UNFPA because of its work with China, whose birth limitation program has harsh elements that include coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.

The Bureau does not, however, manage population program funds; this is done by USAID, largely through its Child Survival and Health Account.

  
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