Economic Equality and Fertility in Developing Countries

Economic Equality and Fertility in Developing Countries

Economic Equality and Fertility in Developing Countries

Economic Equality and Fertility in Developing Countries

Excerpt

This book is concerned with two of the most disturbing problems of our time: the rapid rise in population, particularly in the less-developed countries, and the increasing disparity in living standards between the world's poor and its affluent. The severity and scope of these problems need no documentation as they have been described in innumerable books, lectures, and conferences on international issues. More important, they have been the object of an increasingly intensive search for solutions. This book is part of that search.

Neither is it necessary to point out that these problems are related. By limiting the resources available for raising living standards, the more rapid growth of population in low-income countries has been partially responsible for the less rapid increases in per capita income that they have generally experienced. This much is clear despite the uncertainties and controversies which still surround the determinants of economic growth. These uncertainties, although important, are not the central concerns of the research presented here.

This book documents the contribution of economic inequality to rapid population growth through its effect on birth rates. It shows that a more unequal distribution of income within a community implies a higher aggregate birth rate and a faster rate of population growth. This is true for individual nations composed of rich and poor households, and for the world community of rich and poor nations as well. It shows that for a community at any level of economic development, as measured by average income per capita or some similar index, the overall birth rate of the community will be lower, the more equally distributed that total income is. Economic inequalities work to maintain high fertility and rapid population growth.

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