13 DECEMBER 1963, Page 29

Three Billion Mouths

World Without Want. By Paul Hoffman. (Chatto and Windus, 22s. 6d.)

PALL HOFFMAN, formerly a principal adminis- trator of the Marshall Plan, has written this short and readable book, well illustrated—it Would be a good book to put in the hands of the student approaching the subject for the first time —in the first instance, to convince American readers that foreign aid has been worth while, that United Nations technical assistance has been valuable, and in support of the United Nations 'Development Decade,' for which he is one of the principal spokesmen. The book is well Written and accurate—approaching it critically, the reviewer was only able to find one error of fact : namely, the statement that half of each generation of Indians have died before the age of six; the official Indian statistics, which may be a little biased, estimate that half of each generation now survive beyond the age of thirty.

Although he makes reference to Professor kostow's now fashionable ideas about 'the take- off into sustained economic development,' the author does not imply, as Professor Rostow has done, that the whole process can be compressed into a decade or two, or brought about simply by increasing the input of capital. The target for the 'Development Decade' is an increase throughout the underdeveloped world of 3 per cent per annum of production per head °f population. This figure has already been attained by a number of 'middle rank' economies such as Greece, Mexico, Taiwan, Jamaica and Rhodesia, though it is 'rather a high standard` to set for the whole of the underdeveloped world. The author makes use of the highly faulty United Nations statistics of average incomes per head, though admitting their grave defect: namely, that the purchasing power of money in the Poorer countries is much greater than in the richer. A recent study in Thailand, for instance, has shown that while income per head on the United Nations method of reckoning is only one- fourteenth of that in Britain, the' real value of the average Siamese income is about two-fifths (31. ours. The United Nations figures give a grossly exaggerated picture of world poverty.

The author is frank about the faults of the underdeveloped peoples which binder economic development : their tendency to waste scarce

Capital in 'prestige' investments rather than in the .ale less spectacular investments which their countries really require, the desire of their educated men to become government officials or lawyers, and their contempt for commercial and manual work, and their tendency to rush into big projects with- out adequate preliminary surveys. While fully sYMpathising with the countries which have suffered from a fall in the prices of export products, he points out that the world stabilisa- tion of the price of commodities like coffee is in fact impossible, although the wealthier coun- tries certainly ought to reduce their taxes on them, and also welcome all agricultural and in- dustrial exports which the poorer countries can offer them.

Our Crowded Planet, 'though permeated throughout by the preconception that a great number of the people in the world should never have been born, contains some useful informa- tion and ideas. Professor Toynbee and Sir Julian Huxley, as was to be expected, are heard from, but have nothing particular to say. Earle Rauber, a banker. performs a remarkable piece of static-

tical slanting in attempting to prove that eco- nomic growth in the United States has been slowed down as a result of population increase. Professor Sears, formerly Professor of Conserva- tion at Yale, is still worried about a shortage of minerals; apparently nobody has told him about the extent to which chemists and en- gineers have now devised substitutes which re- duce all our mineral requirements.

Sir Charles Darwin persists in the erroneous statement that world food supply is increasing more slowly than population, but is pessimistic about obtaining his object of restricting popula- tion growth; he has the common sense to recog- nise that, while some nations may wish to limit their populations, others will not, and that 'the limiters will soon be in the minority.' Eugene Black, of the International Bank, states a sober case about the economic requirements imposed by increasing population; but does not consider the converse case, that in many Asian and African communities a population explosion may be the only force powerful enough to break the crust of ancient customs, and to stimulate eco- nomic development. Professor Beltran, a zoologist who appears to know little or nothing about agriculture, contends that Latin America i3 over-populated; most areas 'in that continent are visibly suffering from under-population. Lord Boyd-Orr, recently a considerable pessimist, in a short and forceful contribution urges that world food supply could be increased more than eight- fold, though he does commit himself to the rash statement that 'soil erosion has destroyed about half of the once fertile land of the earth.'

On the cultural front, Andre Maurois con- tends that population growth is destroying the life of the fancily and of the village,' and that the only culture really worth having was that of the eighteenth century. Fairfield Osborn examines, and dismisses for want of evidence, the case of the eugenists, that population growth is leading to a decline in the genetic quality of the human race. Dr. Fraser Darling writes well on the need for much stricter measures, even in national parks, for the preservation of in- digenous scenery and flora and fauna.

Two churchmen were invited to contribute. Unlike some churchmen, Father Gannon, former President of Fordham, leaves agriculture and similar questions for laymen to answer, and writes on theology and morals, which must be observed on `mercy killing' and other issues, as well as mechanical contraceptives. If parents, through personal reasons, find it necessary to limit the number of their children, they should do so by the use of the agenetic period. Bishop Pike, the leading spokesman of Protestant Chris- tianity on this issue, takes a position close to this. Professor Commager, studying the historical evidence, fears, with some justification, that countries with large and growing populations may become politically aggressive; but, by the same token, few of them are likely to listen to his plea that they should immediately check the growth of their numbers. The most refreshing essay is that by Sir Solly Zuckerman. The natural resources to provide for an increase in population exist; under these circumstances, he points out, `population pressure becomes simply a problem in politics and leadership.'