Abstract

Recent public opinion polls report that a majority of Americans consider the nation’s population growth rate to be a “serious” problem. Little systematic evidence exists on whether they view the problem as a factor that the individual married couple should consider in deciding on family size. A survey of 134 adult women living in a limited-income family housing project in a relatively small and isolated American community suggests: the view that continued population growth is a problem in the United States is endorsed more strongly than the view that the couple has a responsibility to limit its fertility because of overpopulation; and concern with population growth is only loosely associated with acceptance of the individual responsibility attitude. Among subgroups of respondents, Catholics were more likely to hold a negative attitude toward population growth than to possess the individual responsibility view and they exhibited a correlation between the two attitudes. Protestants were distinguished by no difference in or correlation between the acceptance of the two attitudes. A correlation between the attitudes was especially pronounced among Catholics with high achievement values. It is suggested that measures explicitly intended to control population growth probably cannot be adopted until there is a strong correlation between the two attitudes.

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