Falling Fertility

In this week’s economist there are a number of good Geography and geography related articles.

The cover story is on the falling fertility rate globally.  It is well worth a read especially as this weeks issue is half price £2 instead of £4.


The key points made by the article are:

  • In the next few years only half of humanity will be having enough children to replace itself – the fertility rate of half the world will be 2.1 or below.
  • According to the UN Population Division 2.9 billion out of 6.5 billion people were living in countries below this point in 2000-5.
  • The number will rise to 3.4 billion out of 7 billion in the early 2010s.
  • The countires include Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and South India.
  • This change is changing traditional family life by enabling women to go to work and childrent to be educated.
  • In rich countries the replacement rate is 2.1, in poorer countries it can be over 3 (due to higher child mortality.)
  • The global replacement rate is 2.33.
  • By 2010 the global fertility rate will fall below the global replacement rate for the first time.
  • Modern Malthusians have discounted this as they believe the absolute number is what matters and that is still set to rise by 2.4 billion by the next 40 years.
  • Population can rise but fertility fall because of inertia.

There is also some interesting research on the economics of fertility.

  • Fertility begins to drop at an annual income of $1,00-$2,000 and falls until it hits replacement level at an income per head of $4,000 to $10,000.
  • Research has been done that on average Women in developing countries want one less child  than they are having.
  • In 2002 a quarter of all pregnancies in developing countires were unplanned.
  • In Africa there are 25million woment that want to get contraceptives but cannot use them.
  • This impolices that fertility in some countries would be even lower if more family planner were available.

This article is well worth a read and there also some really good graphs and diagrams.

Falling Fertility Graph

The sources that the economist used to produce this article are available on their website here.