Countries can promote stability and economic growth by investing in voluntary family planning programs, argue Liz Leahy of Population Action International (PAI) and Sean Peoples of the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) in the September/October 2008 issue of World Watch magazine.

"While no reasonable expert would argue that there is a simple causal relationship between demography and security—e.g., that a total fertility rate of five children per woman indicates that civil war will break out 20 years from now, or that a country cannot remain stable unless its age distribution resembles a bell curve—demographic trends can clearly interact with poverty, poor governance, competition for natural resources, and environmental degradation to contribute to conflict," write Leahy and Peoples. Voluntary family planning can promote stability by leading to higher savings and wages, greater per-capita spending on health and education at both the household and government levels, and increased participation of women in the work force.

The online version of World Watch also includes a short history of population trends by Robert Engelman, as well as free previews of Lori Hunter's article on population, health, environment, and gender; Bernard Orimbo's treatment of population growth and environmental degradation in his native Kenya; and PAI staff's discussion of urbanization.

On September 30, 2008, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., ECSP and the Worldwatch Institute will co-sponsor the launch of this issue at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Speakers will include Engelman, vice president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute; Karen Hardee, vice president of research at PAI; Thomas Prugh, editor of World Watch; and Peoples.