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The global trend towards smaller families is a reflection of people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want, when they want. When people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates, often making them higher or lower than what most people desire.
Human activity is altering the planet on an unprecedented scale, the report points out. More people are using more resources with more intensity and leaving a bigger "footprint" on the earth than ever before. The report examines the close links between environmental conditions, population trends, and prospects for alleviating poverty in developing countries. It finds that expanding women's opportunities and ensuring their reproductive health and rights are critically important, both to improve the well-being of growing human populations and to protect the natural world.