Today, I wanted to share with you another sample band 9 essay. This time, I am going to look at the topic of populations, or – more specifically – population control. This question will ask me whether it is right for governments to implements population control measures in their country.

It is an interesting and quite controversial topic, but that just means that there is more scope for discussion. Honestly, I felt conflicted about this issue. On the one hand, population control seems grossly unethical, but on the other hand it is actually quite important that we address the problem of over-population.

Let’s look at the task 2 essay question we will deal with today.


Here is the question that I shall attempt to answer.

Some governments say how many children a family can have in their home. They may control the number of children someone has through taxes. It is sometimes necessary and right for a government to control the population in this way.

Do you agree or disagree?

My opinion when I first read this question was mixed. As I said in the introduction, I felt that both sides of the argument are valid. However, today I did not feel like presenting a balanced point of view. (Remember: You don’t have to always presented a balanced perspective.)

You should not spend too much time thinking about what to write. Instead, pick the answer that offers the best chance of a good essay and then begin planning it.

Planning my Essay

I felt that having a strong opinion was better for this topic and so I picked my gut feeling, which was that population control measures are wrong. I did this because it seemed like an easier opinion to justify and of course I had the perfect example in mind: China’s One-Child Policy.

By picking this side, I could immediately start planning my essay. The model in my head quickly took shape and looked like this:

population control - ielts writing task 2 sample essay
My essay plan.

As you can see, my structure is quite typical. It will have four paragraphs (which is the best number) and the body paragraphs will both refute the opposite view and support my own view.

In those body paragraphs, I will attempt not to provide balance but rather to give a strong answer by showing what the opposite view is. We can do that with this sort of language:

To begin with, some people contend that governments have no choice but to intervene because some people act with no sense of responsibility.

The word “contend” shows that this is not my perspective but other people’s perspective. After saying that, I can then talk about why it is wrong.

Vocabulary for Populations

There are some useful words and phrases that you can learn to help deal with this topic. You can see those in the following table:

Birth ratethe number of live births per thousand of population per year
Death ratethe number of deaths per one thousand people per year
Immigrationthe action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country
Emigrationthe act of leaving one’s own country to settle permanently in another
Demographicsstatistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it
Overpopulationthe condition of being populated with excessively large numbers
Diversitya range of different things

You should also know how to talk about big numbers like millions and billions. You can learn that in this video:

Some useful phrases are:

____ has a population of ____China has a population of 1.37 billion people.
increased demand for ____The population has resulted in an increased demand for water and fuel.
pass the ____ markIndia’s population recently passed the one billion mark.
____ cause untold sufferingThe government’s actions have caused untold suffering.
Offer little in the way of a positive outcome.Aside from the untold suffering, China’s government has offered little in the way of a positive outcome for affected families.

Sample Essay

Alright, here is my sample answer to the above question:

Overpopulation has become one of the major problems of the modern era, as the human population soars to more than eight billion people. Some governments have made attempts to control this growth, including setting a limit on the number of children that people can have. This essay will argue that it is completely unethical to do this.

To begin with, some people contend that governments have no choice but to intervene because some people act with no sense of responsibility. They have many children yet they cannot afford to raise them properly, causing serious social issues. In this sort of situation, it seems reasonable that the government should intervene, but it is certainly problematic when the government decides to become involved in population control. This simply raises too many ethical concerns and increases the possibility of infanticide, illegal abortions, and forced sterilisation.

The clear example of all of this is China, which implemented its One Child Policy and was heavily criticised because of the shocking human rights abuses that resulted from it. Despite horrific actions that destroyed or ended millions of lives, the policy did not even work very well. Eventually, it was rescinded and there was little change in the population. As such, it is clear that limiting the number of children a family can have causes untold suffering and yet offers little in the way of a positive outcome.

In conclusion, government attempts at population control are often grossly unethical and also quite ineffective. A better solution would be to educate the population more as better educated people have fewer children.

You can write your own answers below as comments.