by Carolyn Moynihan
Why would an aid agency be interested in television soap operas? Because the agencies like to see the population growth of developing countries slowing down, and because soap operas in one developing country seem to be linked with lower fertility.
In Brazil, where population growth is down to 1.1 per cent, about 40 million people watch the mid-evening telenovela from Globo, the leading television network. The action often takes place in Rio de Janiero, where Globo is based, among families which are smaller, whiter and richer than average. The scriptwriters have, let's say, an agenda. "Their plots often tilt in a progressive direction: AIDS is discussed, condoms are promoted and social mobility is exemplified," reports The Economist.