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And, finally, that it will decline to two children or less per woman.These are levels now found in Europe and North America.The Indian example illustrates an important trend: that the challenge of soaring populations will increasingly be concentrated in the poorest countries, and in the poorest regions of nations such as India.
In quite a few developing countries, birth rates are declining significantly. In Jordan, for example, the fertility rate still hovers around 4 children per woman.
Indonesia was a country that was widely acknowledged for its innovative and steadfastly pursued family planning program in the 1980s, when its total fertility rate fell to 3 children per woman. In a recent survey, about 30 percent of women with 2 living children said that they wanted another child. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the region that now causes the most worry.
First, that it will continue to decline where it has begun to decline, and will begin to decline where it has not.
Second, that the decline will be smooth and uninterrupted.
The UN’s middle-of-the-road assumption for sub-Saharan Africa — that fertility rates will drop to 3.0 and population reach 2 billion by 2050 — seem unrealistically low to me.
More likely is the UN’s high-end projection that sub-Saharan Africa’s population will climb to 2.2 billion by 2050 and then continue to 4.8 billion by 2100.
In sub-Saharan Africa, this has happened in Nigeria, where the fertility rate has stalled at about 5.7, and in Ghana, where the fertility rate is 4.1 and apparently resuming a slow decline.
Very recent surveys have shown that fertility decline in Senegal has likely stalled at 5.0 children and has risen somewhat to 4.1 in Zimbabwe.
Many sub-Saharan African countries have seen some decline, and today the average fertility rate is 5.2 children per woman.
Should the UN’s assumptions prove correct, sub-Saharan Africa’s population would still rise from 880 million today to 2 billion in 2050.