The idea of Population Education, though not referred to as such, came into being in the mid-twentieth century. J.E. Jayasuria points out that in 1941 Alva Myrdal in her book Nation and Family suggested that education could influence the children through the schools and adults through other educational agencies to appreciate national population goals.
In 1942, Kenneth Rehage wrote an article in Social Education, a monthly journal of National Council for the social studies an expanded version of which appeared in a pamphlet in 1943 advocating the inclusion of population issues in the social studies curriculum. The concern at the time was the trend in U.S.A. towards a greater decrease in population.
Historically, the development of population education goes back to the 1940s, particularly in the United States and Sweden, when there was concern about population decline. However, in the 1950s and 1960s the main concern was that of high birth rates and growing populations.
As a result, many family planning programmes were established. These programmes, especially in the developing world, were not highly successful. It appeared that they concentrated on adults who had to overcome deeply entrenched traditional learning.
In 1962 Philip Hauser in his article Population Gap in the Curriculum urged the inclusion of population contents in the school curriculum. At that time concern was different to that of unprecedented rapid population growth.
Through the late 1960s and early 1970s, educational programmes were developed for children and youth whose reproductive years were still ahead of them and during this period the term population education was almost synonymous with school population education programmes.
The content of population education was broadened, beyond the topics of fertility and growth, to include a much wider range of population processes and characteristics.