Philander Priestley Claxton Jr., 84, a State Department official who advised secretaries of state on links between population control and economic well-being, died of cancer Nov. 20 at his home in Bethesda.

Mr. Claxton came to the State Department in 1947 and until 1961 was deputy assistant secretary of state for congressional relations. He then was a special assistant to secretaries of state Dean Rusk, William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger. He retired from State in 1974.

He spent much of the 1970s helping start conferences on population control, including the U.N. World Population Conference held in Bucharest, Romania, in 1974.

From 1978 to 1988, Mr. Claxton was a consultant to the Futures Group in Washington on several projects involving the U.S. Agency for International Development. His work analyzed population as it figured into social and economic factors in foreign countries.

Mr. Claxton, who was born in Washington, was a 1934 English graduate of the University of Tennessee and received a master's degree in politics from Princeton University. He was a 1938 graduate of Yale Law School.

After graduating, he worked for the Justice Department's antitrust division, was a senior attorney for the Tennessee Valley Authority and served in the Navy in Europe during World War II.

He received the State Department's Superior Honor and John Jacob Rogers awards.

He had been co-director of the International Population Conference, chairman of the Interagency Committee on Population Matters and deputy U.S. representative to the U.N. Population Committee.

Mr. Claxton was a board member of the World Population Society, Population Action International, Population Crisis Committee, International Development Conference and Global Tomorrow Coalition. He was a member of the President's Commission on Population and Family Planning in 1968 and the International Advisory Committee on Population and Law.

He also had been board chairman of Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda and was a member of the Cosmos Club. In 1963, he helped start the Committee for Public Schools in Montgomery County.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Mary Ann Claxton of Bethesda; a son, Philander III, of Middleport, N.Y.; five daughters, Isabelle Claxton of Philadelphia, Kathleen Claxton of Fremont, Calif., Caroline Claxton of Chattanooga, Argyle Read of North Potomac and Ann Claxton of Silver Spring; and eight grandchildren.