Magazine article Economic Review

Poverty Fuels Developing World's High Birth Rate

Magazine article Economic Review

Poverty Fuels Developing World's High Birth Rate

Article excerpt

Poverty fuels high birth rates in poor nations, as documented in the 2002 World Population Data Sheet released at he National Press Club by the Population Reference Bureau. Of the 41 countries designated as "heavily indebted poor countries" by the World Bank, 39 fall into the category of high-fertility nations, where women, on average, bear four or more children. Similarly, the 48 countries identified by the United Nations as "least developed" are expected to triple their populations by 2050.

The correlation between poverty and high fertility rates is most marked in sub-Saharan Africa, where the total fertility rate (TFR, or number of children each woman bears on average) is 5.6 and the gross national income per capita (GNI per capita, adjusted for purchasing power) is $1,540, the lowest by far of any major region. Conversely, Western Europe has a GNI per capita of $25,300 and a TFR of 1.5.

"The demographic divide between rich and poor countries", notes Carl Haub, the author of the data sheet, "is illustrated by longterm population projections. From 2002 to 2050, the more developed countries are projected to go from 1.197 billion to 1.249 billion, an increase of just 52 million people. Over the same period, the population of the less developed world will jump from 5.018 billion to 7.873 billion, an increase of more than 2.8 billion."

Almost 99 per cent of population growth now occurs in the developing world, while there are fewer births than deaths each year in Europe.

The vast majority of developing countries with high birth rates now have official slow-growth policies. …

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