Population control, or more specifically human population control, is a term that usually refers to various national government programs and policies that aim to slow the growth of a country's population. Common population control methods enacted in various countries can include restricting how many children each family is allowed to have, forced sterilizations, increased availability of contraceptives, and education about methods of birth control. Encouraging emigration and restricting immigration are other ways for a country to slow its population growth. The reason for trying to curb population growth with these methods is usually a fear of current or future overpopulation, which is thought to lead to famine and poverty. Many believe that overpopulation both globally and in a specific country can lead to environmental and economic problems if there are more people than can be sustained by the available resources.
Some methods of population control rely on voluntary participation, for example by offering economic incentives to those choosing to have fewer children, or offering free sterilizations or easily obtained birth control. Other government policies can be punitive, including fines or other forms of punishment if a family has more than the allowed number of children. Punitive measures can also include forcing pregnant women to undergo abortions, or forcing men and women to be sterilized. Such involuntary forms of population control are controversial, considered by many to violate human rights, and are not commonly part of the official policy in any country.
China's one child policy is one of the most well-known national population control programs. It includes fines for families who have more than one child, especially in urban areas, and economic incentives to those who do only have one child. The Chinese government believes that this policy has succeeded in reducing population growth, and has helped make the country's current economic growth possible. In India, government policies have focused on increasing the use of contraceptives, and public campaigns have promoted the idea of each family having no more than two children. The population growth rate has declined in India, but not as dramatically as in China.
Some scientists argue that world population control is essential for humanity's long-term survival, economically and environmentally. They believe that humanity will deplete the Earth's resources if the global population continues to increase. Other scientists believe that the fears of global overpopulation are overstated, and that population growth does not have to be detrimental to the environment or the economy.