Population Research and Policy Review 17: 403–419, 1998.
© 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
How many children? – Fixing total annual births as a population
K. K. FUNG
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Abstract. Traditional family planning’s emphasis on manipulating the total fertility rate often
results in erratic number of births which disrupts school enrollment and labor supply. Fixing
total annual births to a permanently lower level will avoid such repeated disruptions and can
eventually lead to a lower stationary population with annual deaths equal to the ﬁxed annual
births. If allocation of the ﬁxed birth quotas is conditional upon deaths, each death can be
converted to a variable number of inheritable and tradable birth quotas. Tradable birth coupons
allow families to have the number of children they want and can afford within the overall
ﬁxed birth quotas. Inheritable birth quotas provide incentive for higher old-age mortality and
consequently less aging in a declining population.
Keywords: Death-linked birth quotas, One-child policy, Population control, Stationary pop-
ulation, Total fertility rate
Ad hoc vs long-term goals in family planning
Most family planning programs have no speciﬁc goals regarding the number
of children a child-bearing woman should have or the desired size of the
stationary total population. This lack of speciﬁc goals may not seem to be
important when the total fertility rate (i.e., lifetime births per fertile woman)
is very high and the total population keeps increasing even when fertility is
falling. The most pressing immediate concern is to reduce fertility as much
as possible and worry about any possible adverse consequences later. But de-
mographic cohorts stay with the population for a life time. Any poor planning
now will lead to certain unwelcome consequences in the future.
Even where a speciﬁc goal regarding the ideal number of children a child-
bearing woman exists, the number chosen is often limited by the family
planners’ imagination. For example, the chosen number is often a round num-
ber, such as one or two children. In addition, birth control is seldom linked to
death control. In other words, family planning is solely concerned with how
to reduce birth rates and seldom concerned with how birth rates interact with
death rates to determine the population size. Very often, both birth rates and