Birth rates soar in troubled Africa

Posted: 24 July 2003

Political unrest and war have affected the ability of many developing nations in Africa and Asia to promote family planning and literacy programmes that could reduce soaring birth rates and poverty levels, the author of a new demographic study says.

European nations - more industrialised and prosperous - face declining populations, according to the report by the US-based, non-profit, Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

Europe, which has fewer younger residents than Africa, Asia or Latin America, faces decades of population decline unless couples have morechildren or countries attract more immigrants, said the study's author, Carl Haub.

"Have and have-not nations live in totally different worlds," Haub said. "But they are all shaped by their rate of growth."

Data Sheet

The latest edition of the World Population Data Sheet estimates the global population will rise 46 per cent between now and 2050 to about 9 billion, a level that has also been predicted by the United Nations and other groups.

Most of the world growth will come in developing nations. Among them are two critical countries which have been much in the news recently: Pakistan, where the population will grow 134 per cent by 2050 to 349 million; and Afghanistan,which will grow at the same pace to 67 million.

The population in the Congo, which has been torn by civil war, could more than triple during the same period to 181 million. And Africa's mostpopulous country, Nigeria, could more than double to 307 million.

Growth in Africa comes even though the continent has some of the highest rates of HIV and AIDS infection in the world.

India and China

India should still overtake China as the world's largest country by 2050. India is expected to grow by 52 per cent to 1.6 billion. The population in China, currently 1.3 billion is expected to rise to 1.45 billion by 2025 but decline to 1.4 billion by 2050.

The United States is one of the few industrialised nations growing, Haub said. Europe's population is expected to decrease 9 per cent to 664 million.

The findings echoed those released earlier this year in a study in the journal Science, which said that European population growth reached a turning point in 2000.

That is when the number of children there dropped to a level that statistically assured there will be fewer parents in the next generation than there are in the current generation.

Source: PlanetWire 22 July 2003To see or order the PRB World Population Data Sheet 2003 contact: PRB