birth rate

Kate Allen

He calls it the biggest story of our lifetime – and he’s on a mission to make sure that everybody knows it.

Hans Rosling – rockstar data wrangler, global stats icon, Swedish health professor – will use a one-hour BBC TV programme on Thursday to try to convince us we don’t know what we think we know about the world.

This vital truth: the global population boom is fizzling out. “This is a fact that media have missed. It has failed to communicate,” Rosling told the FT.

The rate of growth of the world’s population accelerated sharply over the past half a century, leading to much rhetoric about over-population and exhaustion of the planet’s resources.

But, as Rosling will argue in tomorrow night’s programme, the world’s population is set to plateau by the end of the century. All that Malthusian rhetoric about the population timebomb? Redundant. Read more

A leading Iranian presidential candidate has told women to have more babies.

The country’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who has championed “resistance” against the west, is a staunch conservative. In a recent campaign speech he lashed out at the western view that empowering women can act “as a tool” to speed up economic development. In Islam, he said, “the core identity of women lies in their motherhood”.

But he’s fighting against the tide of Iranian demography, which has undergone a radical shift in the past three decades.

Iran fertility

Source: United Nations Population Division

Iranian total fertility rates (TFR) have collapsed from 6.49 per woman in 1974 to 2.17 in 2000 and 1.89 as at 2006. Demographers regard a TFR of 2.1 per woman as what is needed to keep a population stable. So the Iranian birth rate is not even enough to maintain current population levels, let alone to expand them.

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