Birth Rates Soar In Some Nations, Dwindle In Others, Study Suggests

A mother holds an infant baby against her chest.
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Countries in Europe, North America, and South America are seeing their birth rates drop significantly, while nations across Africa and Asia are seeing a “baby boom,” a new report details.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, set up in part by funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used more than 8,000 data sources to piece together a look at birth rates and population increases throughout the world. The research indicated that in 2017, there were more than 7.6 billion people on the planet.

For comparison, in 1950 there were just 2.6 billion people living on Earth.

The world’s population continues to grow, but birth rates in some nations are dwindling. Some nations in the Western Hemisphere and in Europe are actually seeing rates that are not sustaining their current population numbers, according to reporting from Channel News Asia. Nations in Africa and Asia, however, are seeing a rise in rates of children being born.

In Nigeria, for instance, the average woman in her life will give birth to seven children. In Afghanistan, the average woman gives birth to six children. In contrast, in the nation of Cyprus, the average woman gives birth to just one child in her lifetime.

Overall, the global rate of birth has actually halved since 1950, but the overall rate is still a net positive, meaning the world’s population continues to grow as time goes by, according to reporting from CNN. The United Nations predicts the world will reach 10 billion people by the year 2050, which calls into question whether the world can sustain that high of a population without humans destroying all of its resources in order to do so.

The key to which countries have higher birth rates versus those who do not depends heavily on education, according to one of the researchers.

“It is down to socioeconomic factors but it’s a function of a woman’s education,” Ali Mokdad, who is part of the IMHE, said. “The more a woman is educated, she is spending more years in school, she is delaying her pregnancies and so will have fewer babies.”

He added that as more nations become prosperous, the access to education will be greater, which should lead to even smaller rates of population growth, even in nations within Africa and Asia.

“Countries are expected to fare better economically and it’s more likely that fertility there will decline and level out,” Mokdad added.