A number of countries have introduced population policies as a way of attempting to control their population. In some countries, policies have attempted to reduce the rate of population growth by limiting birth rates. An example of this is China, where the one-child policy rewarded parents with free health care and reduced tax rates for parents with one child. This policy has changed in recent years to encourage parents to have two children.
In other countries, population growth has been encouraged by incentivising higher birth rates and/or encouraging immigration. An example of this is France, where parents are given child benefits for and gives parents paid maternity and paternity leave from work following the birth of a child.
Population policies have sometimes been voluntary in some countries and the law in others. Population control may involve any of the following:
- improving access to contraception
- education about family planning
- encouraging emigration to other areas of a country
- increasing access to abortions
- decreasing the number of people moving to the country through immigration
- infanticide (intentional killing of children, particularly females)
- promoting the benefits of smaller families
- offering financial incentives for having smaller/larger families
- improving health care so that infants are more likely to survive to adulthood, reducing the need to have a large number of children
Culture and religious beliefs can have a considerable impact on the population policy a country introduces. For example, the practice of abortion may not be accepted in some societies.
Policies promoting population growth are using introduced in countries where there is low population growth, a declining economically active population or an ageing population.