Comments on Decreasing Birth Rates

2/10/06

The classical demographic transition from high birth rates to low birth rates is a slow process related to development and education.  The crude birth rate in the US was 30.1 live births per 1000 population in 1910, but had decreased to 14.1 births/1000 in 2001 (USstats.htm).  Tribal and traditional societies tend to encourage rote memorization to preserve the status quo while industrialization and technical development require education based upon forming hypotheses and testing those using analytical and technical tools.  The UN population database includes estimates of births/1000 population/year for all countries and several regions for 1950 to 2050.  I have tabulated and summarized this data for several major countries and continents (UN Birth rates.htm).  Clearly, natural resource wealth and foreign aid have not reduced the birth rates enough in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, or Africa.  The outlook for these areas is bleak unless more effective methods are developed to reduce birth rates.  Education is too slow to stabilize the world’s population by 2050.  China has been the most effective by using policy and economic incentives.  I think foreign aid could be made much more effective by insisting that additional grants of aid will depend upon measurable, significant reductions in birth rates.  Past aid to countries with high birth rates has resulted in decreased death rates which have usually resulted in increased population growth because little attention was given to making sure the birth rates decreased faster than the death rates.  Reducing death rates faster than birth rates is a recipe for poverty and war.

 

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