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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.







Population And The American Future

The Report Of The Commission On Population Growth And The American Future

John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Chairman
March 27, 1972



Compilation of Recommendations


Population Education

In view of the important role that education can play in developing an understanding of the causes and consequences of population growth and distribution, the Commission recommends enactment of a Population Education Act to assist school systems in establishing well-planned population education programs so that present and future generations will be better prepared to meet the challenges arising from population change.

To implement such a program, the Commission recommends that federal funds be appropriated for teacher training, for curriculum development and materials preparation, for research and evaluation, for the support of model programs, and for assisting state departments of education to develop competence and leadership in population education.

Sex Education

Recognizing the importance of human sexuality, the Commission recommends that sex education be available to all, and that it be presented in a responsible manner through community organizations, the media, and especially the schools.

Child Care

The Commission recommends that both public and private forces join together to assure that adequate child-care services, including health, nutritional, and educational components, are available to families who wish to make use of them.

Because child-care programs represent a major innovation in child-rearing in this country, we recommend that continuing research and evaluation be undertaken to determine the benefits and costs to children, parents, and the public of alternative child-care arrangements.

Children Born Out of Wedlock

The Commission recommends that all children, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, be accorded fair and equal status socially, morally, and legally.

The Commission urges research and study by the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and other interested groups leading to revision of those laws and practices which result in discrimination against out-of-wedlock children.

Our end objective should be to accord fair and equal treatment to all children.


The Commission recommends changes in attitudes and practices to encourage adoption thereby benefiting children, prospective parents, and society.

To implement this goal, the Commission recommends:

Further subsidization of families qualified to adopt, but unable to assume the full financial cost of a childís care.

A review of current laws, practices, procedures, and regulations which govern the adoptive process.

Equal Rights for Women

The Commission recommends that the Congress and the states approve the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and that federal, state, and local governments undertake positive programs to ensure freedom from discrimination based on sex.

Contraception and the Law

The Commission recommends that: (1) states eliminate existing legal inhibitions and restrictions on access to contraceptive information, procedures, and supplies; and (2) states develop statutes affirming the desirability that all persons have ready and practicable access to contraceptive information, procedures, and supplies.

Contraception and Minors

The Commission recommends that states adopt affirmative legislation which will permit minors to receive contraceptive and prophylactic information and services in appropriate settings sensitive to their needs and concerns.

To implement this policy, the Commission urges that organizations, such as the Council on State Governments, the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Association, formulate appropriate model statutes.

Voluntary Sterilization

In order to permit freedom of choice, the Commission recommends that all administrative restrictions on access to voluntary contraceptive sterilization be eliminated so that the decision be made solely by physician and patient.

To implement this policy, we recommend that national hospital and medical associations, and their state chapters, promote the removal of existing restrictions.


With the admonition that abortion not be considered a primary means of fertility control, the Commission recommends that present state laws restricting abortion be liberalized along the lines of the New York statute, such abortion to be performed on request by duly licensed physicians under conditions of medical safety.

In carrying out this policy, the commission recommends:

That federal, state, and local governments make funds available to support abortion services in states with liberalized statutes.

That abortion be specifically included in comprehensive health insurance benefits, both public and private.

Methods of Fertility Control

The Commission recommends that this nation give the highest priority to research in reproductive biology and to the search for improved methods by which individuals can control their own fertility.

In order to camí out this research, the Commission recommends that the full $93 million authorized for this purpose in fiscal year 1973 be appropriated and allocated; that federal expenditures for these purposes rise to a minimum of $150 million by 1975; and that private organizations continue and expand their work in this field.

Fertility-Related Health Services

The Commission recommends a national policy and voluntary program to reduce unwanted fertility, to improve the outcome of pregnancy, and to improve the health of children.

In order to carry out such a program, public and private health financing mechanisms should begin paying the full cost of all health services related to fertility, including contraceptive, prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services; pediatric care for the first year of life; voluntary sterilization; safe termination of unwanted pregnancy; and medical treatment of infertility.

Personnel Training and Delivery of Services

We recommend creation of programs to (1) train doctors, nurses, and paraprofessionals, including indigenous personnel, in the pro vision of all fertility-related health services; (2) develop new patterns for the utilization of professional and paraprofessional personnel; and (3) evaluate improved methods of organizing the delivery of these services.

Family Planning Services

The Commission recommends: (1) new legislation extending the current family planning project grant program for five years beyond fiscal year 1973 and providing additional authorizations to reach a federal funding level of $225 million in fiscal year 1973, $275 million in fiscal year 1974, $325 million in fiscal year 1975, and $400 million thereafter; (2) extension of the family planning project grant authority of Title V of the Social Security Act beyond 1972, and maintenance of the level of funding at approximately $30 million annually; and (3) maintenance of the Title II OEO program at current levels of authorization.

Services for Teenagers

Toward the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and childbearing among the young, the Commission recommends that birth control information and services be made available to teenagers in appropriate facilities sensitive to their needs and concerns.

The Commission recommends the development and implementation of an adequately financed program to develop appropriate family planning materials, to conduct training courses for teachers and school administrators, and to assist states and local communities in integrating information about family planning into school courses such as hygiene and sex education.

Population Stabilization

Recognizing that our population cannot grow indefinitely, and appreciating the advantages of moving now toward the stabilization of population, the Commission recommends that the nation welcome and plan for a stabilized population.

Illegal Aliens

The Commission recommends that Congress immediately consider the serious situation of illegal immigration and pass legislation which will impose civil and criminal sanctions on employers of illegal border-crossers or aliens in an immigration status in which employment is not authorized.

To implement this policy, the Commission recommends provision of increased and strengthened resources consistent with an effective enforcement program in appropriate agencies.


The Commission recommends that immigration levels not be increased and that immigration policy be reviewed periodically to reflect demographic conditions and considerations.

To implement this policy, the Commission recommends that Congress require the Bureau of the Census, in coordination with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, to report biennially to the Congress on the impact of immigration on the nationís demographic situation.

National Distribution and Migration Policies

The Commission recommends that:

The federal government develop a set of national population distribution guidelines to serve as a framework for regional, state, and local plans and development.

Regional, state, and metropolitan-wide governmental authorities take the initiative, in cooperation with local governments, to conduct needed comprehensive planning and action programs to achieve a higher quality of urban development.

The process of population movement be eased and guided in order to improve access or opportunities now restricted by physical remoteness, immobility, and inadequate skills, information, and experience.

Action be taken to increase freedom in choice of residential location through the elimination of current patterns of racial and economic segregation and their attendant injustices.

Guiding Urban Expansion

To anticipate and guide future urban growth, the Commission recommends comprehensive land-use and public-facility planning on an overall metropolitan and regional scale.

The Commission recommends that governments exercise greater control over land-use planning and development.

Racial Minorities and the Poor

To help dissolve the territorial basis of racial polarization, the Commission recommends vigorous and concerted steps to promote free choice of housing within metropolitan areas.

To remove the occupational sources of racial polarization, the Commission recommends the development of more extensive human capital programs to equip black and other deprived minorities for fuller participation in economic life.

To reduce restrictions on the entry of low- and moderate-income people to the suburbs, the Commission recommends that federal and state governments ensure provision of more suburban housing for low and moderate income families.

To promote a more racially and economically integrated society, the Commission recommends that actions be taken to reduce the dependence of local jurisdictions on locally collected property taxes.

Depressed Rural Areas

To improve the quality and mobility potential of individuals, the Commission recommends that future programs for declining and chronically depressed rural areas emphasize human resource development.

To enhance the effectiveness of migration, the Commission recommends that programs be developed to provide worker-relocation counseling and assistance to enable an individual to relocate with a minimum 0/risk and disruption.

To promote the expansion of job opportunities in urban places located within or near declining areas and having a demonstrated potential for future growth, the Commission recommends the development of a growth center strategy.

Institutional Responses

The Commission recommends the establishment of state or regional development corporations which would have the responsibility and the necessary powers to implement comprehensive development plans either as a developer itself or as a catalyst for private development.

Population Statistics and Research

The Commission recommends that the federal government move promptly and boldly to strengthen the basic statistics and research upon which all sound demographic, social, and economic policy must ultimately depend, by implementing the following specific improvements in these programs.

Vital Statistics Data

The Commission recommends that the National Center for Health Statistics improve the timeliness and the quality of data collected with respect to birth, death, marriage, and divorce.

Enumeration of Special Groups

The Commission recommends that the federal government support, even more strongly, the Census Bureauís efforts to improve the completeness of our census enumeration, especially of minority groups, ghetto populations, and all unattached adults, especially males, who are the least well counted.

International Migration

The Commission recommends that a task force be designated under the leadership of the Office of Management and Budget to devise a program for the development of comprehensive immigration and emigration statistics, and to recommend ways in which the records of the periodic alien registrations should be processed to provide information on the distribution and characteristics of aliens in the United States.

The Current Population Survey

The Commission recommends that the government provide substantial additional support to the Current Population Survey to improve the area identification of those interviewed and to permit special studies, utilizing enlarged samples, of demographic trends in special groups of the population.

Statistical Reporting of Family Planning Services

The Commission recommends the rapid development of comprehensive statistics on family planning services.

National Survey of Family Growth

The Commission recommends program support and continued adequate financial support for the Family Growth Survey as almost the first condition for evaluating the effectiveness of national population policies and programs.

Distribution of Government Data

The Commission recommends that the various statistical agencies seek to maximize the public usefulness of the basic data by making identity-free tapes available to responsible research agencies.

Mid-Decade Census

The Commission recommends that the decennial census be supplemented by a mid-decade census of the population.

Statistical Use of Administrative Records

The Commission recommends that the government give high priority to studying the ways in which federal administrative records, notably those of the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration, could be made more useful for developing statistical estimates of local population and internal migration.

Intercensal Population Estimates

The Commission recommends that the government provide increased funding, higher priority, and accelerated development for all phases of the Census Bureauís program for developing improved intercensal population estimates for states and local areas.

Social and Behavioral Research

The Commission recommends that substantial increases in federal funds be made available for social and behavioral research related to population growth and distribution, and for the support of nongovernmental population research centers.

Research Program in Population Distribution

The Commission recommends that a research program in population distribution be established, preferably within the proposed Department of Community Development, funded by a small percentage assessment on funds appropriated for relevant federal programs.

Federal Government Population Research

The Commission recommends that the federal government foster the "in-houseĒ research capabilities of its own agencies to provide a coherent institutional structure for improving population research.

Support for Professional Training

The Commission recommends that support for training in the social and behavioral aspects of population be exempted from the general freeze on training funds, permitting government agencies to support programs to train scientists specializing in this field.

Organizational Changes

The Commission recommends that organizational changes be undertaken to improve the federal governmentís capacity to develop and implement population-related programs; and to evaluate the interaction between public policies, programs, and population trends.

Office of Population Affairs, Department of Health, Education and Welfare

The Commission recommends that the capacity of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the population field be substantially increased by strengthening the Office of Population Affairs and expanding its staff in order to augment its role of leadership within the Department.

National Institute of Population Sciences

The Commission recommends the establishment, within the National Institutes of Health, of a National Institute of Population Sciences to provide an adequate institutional framework for implementing a greatly expanded program of population research.

Department of Community Development

The Commission recommends that Congress adopt legislation to establish a Department of Community Development and that this Department undertake a program of research on the interactions of population growth and distribution and the programs it administers.

Office of Population Growth and Distribution

The Commission recommends the creation of an Office of Population Growth and Distribution within the Executive Office of the President.

The Commission recommends the immediate addition of personnel with demographic expertise to the staffs of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Domestic Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology.

Council of Social Advisers

The Commission recommends that Congress approve pending legislation establishing a Council of Social Advisers and that this Council have as one of its main functions the monitoring of demographic variables.

Joint Committee on Population

In order to provide improved legislative oversight of population issues, the Commission recommends that Congress assign to a joint committee responsibility for specific review of this area.

State Population Agencies and Commissions

The Commission recommends that state governments, either through existing planning agencies or through new agencies devoted to this purpose, give greater attention to the problems of population growth and distribution.

Private Efforts and Population Policy

The Commission recommends that a substantially greater effort focusing on policy-oriented research and analysis of population in the United States be carried forward through appropriate private resources and agencies.

[Return to Rockefeller Table of Contents. Go to Chapter 1.]

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