World

Larger families: Your comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said action should be taken to encourage larger families.

In his annual speech to the nation, he proposed awarding a plot of land for building a house to each family on the birth of their third child.

BBC News website readers have been sending us their views on whether governments should intervene in family planning matters. Here is a selection of their comments.

Nargiz Askarova, Kazan, Russia

Image caption Nargiz says wealth influences the shape and size of families

I'm currently unmarried and I agree with the president. Russia is facing a demographic crisis of sorts, which is unprecedented. Couples are having fewer and fewer children. However, what the government is failing to do is explain the reasons why this is the case.

President Medvedev has only outlined and focused the positive benefits of having more children. But we need to think about the other side of the coin.

It may be very true that the income of the Russian people has risen by 5%, but he seems to have forgotten to mention that the prices of food and energy have grown a lot more.

Every year the tariffs for energy resources increase and go up by 10% or 15%. Other factors come into play, for example the breakdown of the public health service and the chasm between the rich and poor in Russia. This influences family planning. No one wants to raise children in a society or in a situation that is not fairly financially secure.

The majority of my married friends can't afford a mortgage or good quality medical care, which is too expensive for them.

If the government is serious about encouraging couples to have larger families then they need to address financial imbalances.

We need better public services and staggered financial support for parents with large families. Policy incentives shouldn't end with the birth of a child but should continue until they go to university.

So, I doubt whether the demographic situation in Russia will change following these comments from President Medvedev.

Anthony James, Chennai, India

Image caption Anthony says smaller families are the future

I am 32 years old. I've been married for over a year and I'm starting a family. My wife and I are expecting our first child in the next couple of weeks.

Personally, I feel that family sizes largely depend on the confidence of the parents. India is a densely populated country. Impoverished families tend to have more children in the hope that their economic situation will improve.

My wife and I want our children to have the freedom to pursue their own dreams of further education and travel.

We also want our child to have a better standard of care and living conditions. This kind of aspiration is especially true for the educated middle classes who have all sorts of aspirations for their children, choices not available to past generations.

Decisions about family planning in India are heavily influenced by societal norms and not necessarily by the government. Politicians come and go and government policies are always changing. So I won't base my choice of family size on them.

Middle class parents in India focus all their energy on bringing up a maximum of one or two children.

This is because of the pressures related to modern working life. Work commitments often require both parents to work long hours and the amount of energy that they have to invest in family life and the home is limited.

Also, the stigma attached to the idea of a "large family" amongst my friends and family probably means I'll only have one or two children.

Ibrahim Siraju Bah, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The issue of family sizes is a much-needed debate.

I think the government should intervene in family planning matters whenever necessary. The problem industrialised countries face is a different one from that of developing countries like Sierra Leone.

Honestly, it will be a bonus in my country if people decided to increase the size of their own families. The population of Sierra Leone is about five million.

Our country is blessed with huge deposits of mineral resources which, if managed well, could provide adequate support for all our children.

Unfortunately, Sierra Leone is ranked amongst the poorest nations in the world. So much damage has been inflicted on my country.

It has been ravaged by a war that lasted 10 years. So many lives were lost and now we have a dwindling population.

We Sierra Leoneans should endeavour to increase the size of our families in order to replace the losses we suffered in our population.

So I think governments must intervene.

Brigitte Herant, Speracedes, France

Governments should intervene to curb overpopulation, but certainly not to encourage larger families.

Immigration can easily compensate for lower birth rates.

Population should be considered from a global, and not a national, perspective, if global resources are to be preserved.

Even though global population expansion has started to slow down, the current circa 7bn world population is already far too many.