To the editor:
Ben Habiger ("Population facts?" Public Forum, July 25) is miles off base when he refers to last year's 78 million world population increase as "bold face propaganda," then cites 10 European countries where population is declining. The 78 million figure comes from the United Nations Population Division and I have not seen it challenged by any reputable or responsible demographer.
What seems to escape Mr. Habiger is the fact that the world is demographically divided. Ninety-seven percent of world population growth occurs not in Europe, but in the less developed countries. Developing countries already account for 4.8 billion of the world's six billion people. Sixty-five of these countries are on course to double their populations in 30 years or less. It is in these countries where most of the 1.3 billion people who today live in absolute poverty -- on the equivalent of one U.S. dollar or less per day -- are located, as well as most of the 840 million who are hungry or malnourished; and the 2.3 billion who are without adequate sanitation or safe drinking water.
It is abundantly clear that Mr. Habiger, himself, not those who believe that population stabilization is a vital goal, has fallen victim to "false propaganda."
The Population Institute,