Abstract Relationships among population growth, technological change and education are complex. The theory of quantity-quality trade-offs in numbers and education of children has limited applicability where immediate contributions of children to the household economy are urgent. In the long run, nevertheless, high rates of formation of human capital and high rates of population growth are incompatible. Of special importance to technological progress is the association between education and ability to learn rapidly in the post-school years. Demographic developments are contributing to widening economic gaps among Third World countries, some of which promise increasingly to challenge the industrial leaders.