According to the Cambourne Website, the three settlements that compose Cambourne started to be built on East Anglia farmyard in 1998, and is expected to have an eventual population "somewhere in the region of 8-10,000". In the twelve months up to April 2009, Havergal reports, in Cambourne there was a birthrate of 24.1 per 1,000 population, compared to 21.67 for India. Also mentioned were Indonesia (18.84), Brazil (18.43), China (14) and the US (13.82). The birthrate for England and Wales was 12.8 per thousand, and that of Cambridgeshire 11.9 per thousand.
The statistics were prepared by Cambridgeshire County Council Research Group, and it was great to read an article quoting a whole lot of positive comments about a rising birthrate, with John Vickery, clerk of Cambourne Parish Council, offering the explanation that "it must be something in the water".
There has been a small but steadily growing tide of positivity about childbirth in recent years, so much so that even the left-wing New Statesman has tried to inform us How to Make Babies, while author and journalist Sir Max Hastings advises "a Tory government must offer parents better tax breaks, to encourage us to have more children of our own". France aggressively pushes tax and other breaks for working women who decide to have children, but a spokesman for the Paris office of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - which supports the Millenium Goal advocating "reproductive rights" [including abortion] for all - states that "The way you encourage women to have more children is to help them work more". The Labour Life Group disagreed in a 2008 press release and proposed a position I would hesitate to embrace by stating that "Improved opportunities for women in paid employment and equal access to better paid careers has been a factor reducing the birth rate".
One can imagine reasons why a small Cambridgeshire village is outstripping the birthrates of five of the world's most populous countries:
In China, the one-parent policy has been in place since 1979, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, despite its denials. In its forst year, Stephen Mosher brought back this report, referred to in Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception - the struggle to control world population (to which I owe much of what follows):
Eighteen women who were at least five months pregnant, "red-eyed from lack of sleep and crying", were told they would have to undergo abortions, in two cases by Caeserian section. Through such means, China registered 7.9 million abortions, 13.5 million IUD insertions, and almost 7 million sterilizations in 1979...Reimert Ravenholt, while head of USAID, was credited with reducing the world's birthrate from 4.9 to 2.9 children per woman (although birthrates do fall endogenously as societies slowly become more affluent); he commented that introducing a family planning project at "sub-village level" in Indonesia was "awesome - perhaps the most socially directed [aimed at the poorest] family planning outside of red China".
Ravenholt fanned the flames of population control in India, and when things got too hot for him wrote to the Washington Post in January 1976 stating his opposition to the programme of compulsory male sterilisation that was compounding the Emergency. The mindset of (mostly male) population controllers was revealed when he stated his preference for the substitution of sterilisation of women, which would involve going through the abdominal wall in often less than salubrious settings where not all involved were fully trained. Sex-selective abortion when a baby is identified as being female through the use of ultrasound (which is banned in the country for this purpose) is warping the country's demographics, as it is in China - when Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans was confronted about unregulated export of the machines to the latter country in 1990 fuelling abortion, he replied that the same could be said of unregulated export of coathangers.
Through the offices of Margaret Sanger, eugenics - population control - got a firm foothold in the United States. While she criss-crossed India handing out contraceptive foam to villagers, she never thought anything about sinister stories of side-effects until the same foam, distributed by Lydia DeVilbiss, caused adverse effects when tested upon dogs. This shows the attitude of population controllers to people who aren't white (and able-bodied) which continues in the organisation Sanger founded - the IPPF - targeting poor black areas with abortion clinics to the extent that the Revd Arnold M Culbreath, who oversees the Life Issues Institute's program Protecting Black Life, has stated that "every month in the U.S., approximately 35,000 black babies die by abortion".
Brazil was also an early victim of the eugenics/population control movement: in the First Pan-American Conference on Eugenics and Homiculture at Havana in 1927, Brazilian eugenicists "considered ways to 'whiten' their populations as a way to improve them" (as well as Chinese, Japanese and Mexican delegates). As perhaps a sign of things to come for us all, Philip Longman, author of The Empty Cradle: how falling birthrates threaten world prosperity mentioned the use of certain images of womanhood in Brazilian soap-operas as a means of bringing down birth-rates.
All the more reason, then, to congratulate the good people of Cambourne on their good news. Amid whispers that the Optimum Population Trust are embarking on a letter-writing campaign, I wish the villagers a happy time with their families.