Rockefeller Report: Population Growth and the American Future

* 27 Mar 1972: Population Growth and the American Future [PDF]: Ch 1: Perspective on Population; Ch 2: Population Growth; Ch 3: Population Distribution; Ch 4: The Economy; Ch 5: Resources and the Environment; Ch 6: Government; Ch 7: Social Aspects; Ch 8: Population and Public Policy; Ch 9: Education; Ch 10: The Status of Children and Women; Ch 11: Human Reproduction; Ch 12: Population Stabilization; Ch 13: Immigration; Ch 14: National Distribution and Migration Policies; Ch 15: Population Statistics and Research; Ch 16: Organizational Changes; Compilation of Recommendations; Separate Statements; References; Glossary & Appendix. Sources: The American Presidency ProjectMinnesotans for Sustainability; Population Security; DieOff.

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

Richard Nixon Introduction; Table of Contents; Letter of Transmittal; The Commission; Commission Staff; Dedication; Preface


One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of the population. Whether man’s response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today. If we now begin our work in an appropriate manner, and if we continue to devote a considerable amount of attention and energy to this problem, then mankind will be able to surmount this challenge as it has surmounted so many during the long march of civilization.

Richard Nixon

July 18, 1969


Table of Contents


Letter of Transmittal
The Commission
Commission Staff

Chapter 1. Perspective on Population
Chapter 2. Population Growth
Chapter 3. Population Distribution
Chapter 4. The Economy
Chapter 5. Resources and the Environment
Chapter 6. Government
Chapter 7. Social Aspects
Chapter 8. Population and Public Policy
Chapter 9. Education
Chapter 10. The Status of Children and Women
Chapter 11. Human Reproduction
Chapter 12. Population Stabilization
Chapter 13. Immigration
Chapter 14. National Distribution and Migration Policies
Chapter 15. Population Statistics and Research.
Chapter 16. Organizational Changes

Compilation of Recommendations
Separate Statements


Table 2.1— Demographic Perspective of 20th Century United States
Table 3.1— Metropolitan Population by Size Class, 1970
Table 3.2— Residential Location and Preferences, 1971
Table 7.1— Age Distributions, 1970 and 2000
Table 9.1— The Total Cost of a Child, 1969
Table 11.1— Unwanted Fertility in the United States, 1970


Figure 2.1— Total Fertility Rate
Figure 2.2— The Momentum of Population Growth
Figure 2.3— U.S. Population: 2 vs. 3-Child Family
Figure 3.1— Percent of Population in Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas by States: 1970
Figure 3.2— Percent of Change in Total Population by Counties: 1960 to 1970
Figure 3.3— Urban Regions: Year 2000
Figure 3.4— The Expanding Area of Urban Regions
Figure 5.1— Regional Water Deficits
Figure 5.2— Water Deficit Regions: 3-Child Family
Figure 5.3— Hydrocarbon Emissions
Figure 6.1— Changes in Congressional Representation by States: 1960 to 1970
Figure 7.1— Age Distribution
Figure 7.2— Persons 65 and Over
Figure 7.3— Population Density by Counties: 1970


Letter of Transmittal

Commission on Population Growth and the American Future
726 Jackson Place, N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20506
March 27, 1972

To the President and Congress of the United States:

I have the honor to transmit for your consideration the Final Report, containing the findings and recommendations, of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, pursuant to Sec. 8, PL 91-213.

After two years of concentrated effort, we have concluded that, in the long run, no substantial benefits will result from further growth of the Nation’s population, rather that the gradual stabilization of our population through voluntary means would contribute significantly to the Nation’s ability to solve its problems. We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing economic argument for continued population growth. The health of our country does not depend on it, nor does the vitality of business nor the welfare of the average person.

The recommendations offered by this Commission are directed towards increasing public knowledge of the causes and consequences of population change, facilitating and guiding the processes of population movement, maximizing information about human reproduction and its consequences for the family, and enabling individuals to avoid unwanted fertility.

To these ends we offer this report in the hope that our findings and recommendations will stimulate serious consideration of an issue that is of great consequence to present and future generations.

Respectfully submitted for the Commission,

John D. Rockefeller 3rd Chairman
The President
The President of the Senate
The Speaker of the House of Representatives


The Commission

John D. Rockefeller 3rd

Vice Chairman
Grace Olivarez
Executive Director, Food for All, Inc.

Vice Chairman
Christian N. Ramsey, Jr., M.D.

President, The Institute for the Study of Health and Society

Joseph D. Beasley, M.D.
The Edward Wisner Professor of Public Health
Tulane University Medical Center

David E. Bell
Executive Vice President, The Ford Foundation

Bernard Berelson
President, The Population Council

Arnita Young Boswell
Associate Field Work Professor
School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

Margaret Bright
Professor, Dept. of Behavioral Sciences and Dept. of Epidemiology
School of Hygiene and Public Health
The Johns Hopkins University

Marilyn Brant Chandler
Housewife, Volunteer, Student

Paul B. Cornely, M.D.
Professor, Dept. of Community Health Practice, College of Medicine
Howard University
Assistant to the Executive Medical Officer
Welfare and Retirement Fund United Mine Workers of America

Alan Cranston
United States Senator

Lawrence A. Davis
President, Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College

Otis Dudley Duncan
Professor of Sociology
University of Michigan

John N. Erlenbom
United States Representative
14th C. District of Illinois

Joan F. Flint
Housewife, Volunteer

R. V. Hansberger
Chairman and President
Boise Cascade Corporation

D. Gale Johnson
Chairman, Department of Economics
University of Chicago

John R. Meyer
President, National Bureau of Economic Research
Professor of Economics, Yale University

Bob Packwood
United States Senator

James S. Rummonds
Stanford School of Law

Stephen L. Salyer
Davidson College

Howard D. Samuel
Vice President, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America

James H. Scheuer
United States Representative
22nd C. District of New York

George D. Woods
Director and Consultant
The First Boston Corporation

This report represents the official views of the Commission, particularly as to the listed recommendations. Clearly, in the case of a Commission with such diverse membership, not every Commissioner subscribes in detail to every suggestion or statement of policy.


Commission Staff

Executive Director
Charles F. Westoff

Deputy Director
Robert Parke, Jr.

Directors of Research
Sara Mills Mazie
Elliott R. Morss
A. E. Keir Nash
Ritchie H. Reed*
Dianne Miller Wolman

Director of Policy Coordination
Carol Tucker Foreman

Assistant to the Chairman
David K. Lelewem

Director of Public Information
Gerald Lipson

General Counsel
Ben C. Fisher

Administrative Officer
Lois A. Brooks

Editorial Coordinator
Carol F. Donnelly

Press Officer
Rochelle Kutcher Green

Lloyd Boucree

Production Coordination
W. S. Pickens


Professional Staff

Gail K. Auslander
Phyllis Coghlan
Florence F. Einhornn
Duane S. Elgin
Dorothy Mann
Susan McIntosh
Steve W. Rawlings

Special Consultants
Daniel Callahan
Lenora T. Cartnght
Robert F. Drury
Edgar M. Hoover
Frederick S. Jaffe
Peter A. Morrison
Ronald G. Ridker
Norman B. Ryder
Irene B. Taeuber

Support Staff
Marilyn L. Cleek
Mary Ann Ferguson
Mildred G. Herald
Kathryn E. Herron
Mac Arthur C. Jones
Kituria D. Littlejohn
Betty Marshall
Pearl R. Phillips
Diane 0. Sergeant
Judith M. Stock
Mary C. Wilcher

Production Staff
Bea Garcia
Eugenia Harrison
Bea Rodgers
James Sumiel
Margell Yep



For the first time in the history of our country, the President and the Congress have established a Commission to examine the growth of our population and the impact it will have upon the American future. In proposing this Commission in July 1969, President Nixon said: “One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of the population. Whether man’s response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today.” The Commission was asked to examine the probable extent of population growth and internal migration in the United States between now and the end of this century, to assess the impact that population change will have upon government services, our economy, and our resources and environment, and to make recommendations on how the nation can best cope with that impact.

In our Interim Report a year ago, the Commission defined the scope of our mandate: “. . . to formulate policy for the future” —policy designed to deal with “the pervasive impact of population growth on every facet of American life.” We said that population growth of the magnitude we have experienced since World War II has multiplied and intensified many of our domestic problems and made their solution more difficult. We called upon the American people to begin considering the meaning and consequences of population growth and internal migration and the desirability of formulating a national policy on the question.

Since then, the Commission and staff have conducted an extensive inquiry. We have enlisted many of the nation’s leading scientists in more than 100 research projects. We have heard from more than 100 witnesses in public hearings across the country and have met with experts in many days of executive meetings. And we are aware that population has become an active subject of consideration in a number of states in our country concerned about their future. We have come to recognize that the racial and ethnic diversity of this Commission gives us confidence that our recommendations —the consensus of our members— do indeed point the way in which this nation should move in solving its problems. Because of the importance of this matter, the Commission recommends that future federal commissions include a substantial representation of minorities, youth, poor citizens, and women among their members, including congressional representatives, and the commission staffs and consultants include significant numbers of minorities, youth, and women.

We offer this report in the hope that our viewpoints and recommendations will stimulate serious consideration and response by the citizens of this nation and of nations throughout the world to an issue of great consequence to present and future generations.