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birth rate

The birth rate for a given period is the total number of live human births per 1,000 population divided by the length of the period in years.[1] The number of live births is normally taken from a universal registration system for births; population counts from a census, and estimation through specialized demographic techniques.[clarification needed] The birth rate (along with mortality and migration rates) is used to calculate population growth. The estimated average population may be taken as the mid-year population.[2][3]

The average global birth rate was 18.1 births per 1,000 total population in 2021.[9] The death rate was 7.7 per 1,000. The RNI was thus 1.6 percent.In 2012 the average global birth rate was 19.611 according to the World Bank[10] and 19.15 births per 1,000 total population according to the CIA,[11] compared to 20.09 per 1,000 total population in 2007.[12]

The birth rate is an issue of concern and policy for national governments. Some (including those of Italy and Malaysia) seek to increase the birth rate with financial incentives or provision of support services to new mothers. Conversely, other countries have policies to reduce the birth rate (for example, China's one-child policy which was in effect from 1978 to 2015). Policies to increase the crude birth rate are known as pro-natalist policies, and policies to reduce the crude birth rate are known as anti-natalist policies. Non-coercive measures such as improved information on birth control and its availability have achieved good results in countries such as Iran and Bangladesh.

There has also been discussion on whether bringing women into the forefront of development initiatives will lead to a decline in birth rates. In some countries, government policies have focused on reducing birth rates by improving women's rights, sexual and reproductive health. Typically, high birth rates are associated with health problems, low life expectancy, low living standards, low social status for women and low educational levels. Demographic transition theory postulates that as a country undergoes economic development and social change its population growth declines, with birth rates serving as an indicator.

At the 1974 World Population Conference in Bucharest, Romania, women's issues gained considerable attention. Family programs were discussed, and 137 countries drafted a World Population Plan of Action. As part of the discussion, many countries accepted modern birth control methods such as the birth control pill and the condom while opposing abortion. Population concerns, as well as the desire to include women in the discourse, were discussed; it was agreed that improvements in women's status and initiatives in defense of reproductive health and freedom, the environment, and sustainable socioeconomic development were needed.

Birth rates ranging from 10 to 20 births per 1,000 are considered low, while rates from 40 to 50 births per 1,000 are considered high.[13] There are problems associated with high birth rates, and there may be problems associated with low birth rates. High birth rates may contribute to malnutrition and starvation, stress government welfare and family programs, and more importantly store up overpopulation for the future, and increase human damage to other species and habitats, and environmental degradation. Additional problems faced by a country with a high birth rate include educating a growing number of children, creating jobs for these children when they enter the workforce, and dealing with the environmental impact of a large population. Low birth rates may stress the government to provide adequate senior welfare systems and stress families who must support the elders themselves. There will be fewer younger able-bodied people who may be needed to support an ageing population, if a high proportion of older people become disabled and unable to care for themselves.

In many countries, the steady decline in birth rates over the past decades can largely be attributed to the significant gains in women's freedoms, such as tackling forced marriage and child marriage, access to contraception, equal access to education, and increased socioeconomic opportunities. Women of all economic, social, religious and educational persuasions are choosing to have fewer children as they are gaining more control over their own reproductive rights. Apart from more children living into their adult years, women are often more ambitious to take up education and paid work outside the home, and to live their own lives rather than just a life of reproduction and unpaid domestic work.[20] Birth rates have fallen due to the introduction of family planning clinics and other access to contraception.

In 1990, five years after the Iraq-Iran war ended, Iran saw the fastest recorded fall in fertility in world history. Revolution gave way to consumerism and westernization. With TVs and cars came condoms and birth control pills. A generation of women had been expected to produce soldiers to fight Iraq, but the next generation of women could choose to enjoy some newfound luxuries. During the war, the women of Iran averaged about 8 children each, a ratio the hard-line Islamic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to revive. As of 2010, the birth rate of Iran is 1.7 babies per woman. Some observers claim this to be a triumph of Western values of freedom for women against states with Islamic values.[23]

Islamic clerics are also having less influence over women in other Muslim countries. In the past 30 years Turkey's fertility rate of children per woman has dropped from 4.07 to 2.08. Tunisia has dropped from 4.82 to 2.14 and Morocco from 5.4 to 2.52 children per woman.[24]

Latin America, of predominately Catholic faith, has seen the same trends of falling fertility rates. Brazilian women are having half the children compared to 25 years ago: a rate of 1.7 children per woman. The Vatican now has less influence over women in other hard-line Catholic countries. Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru have all seen significant drops in fertility in the same period, all going from over six to less than three children per woman. Forty percent of married Brazilian women are choosing to get sterilised after having children, but this may be because it only requires confession on one occasion. Some observers claim this to be a triumph of Western values of freedom for women against states with Catholic values.[25]

According to the CIA's The World Factbook,[26] who presumably get their figures from the World Health Organization,[27] the country with the highest birth rate is Niger at 6.49 children born per woman and the country with the lowest birth rate is Taiwan, at 1.13 children born per woman. However, despite not having any official records, it can be presumed for obvious reasons (only men are allowed to be Catholic priests) that the Holy See has the lowest birth rate of any sovereign state.

As of 2017, Niger has had 49.443 births per thousand people.[29] Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world with 8 per thousand people.[30]While in Japan there are 126 million people[31] and in Niger 21 million,[32] both countries had around 1 million babies born in 2016.

The region of Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest birth rate in the world. As of 2016, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Zambia, and Burundi have the highest birth rates in the world.[33] This is part of the fertility-income paradox, as these countries are very poor, and it may seem counter-intuitive for families there to have so many children. The inverse relationship between income and fertility has been termed a demographic-economic "paradox" by the notion that greater means would enable the production of more offspring as suggested by the influential Thomas Malthus.[34]

Afghanistan has the 11th highest birth rate in the world, and also the highest birth rate of any non-African country (as of 2016).[33] The rapid population growth of Afghanistan is considered a problem by preventing population stabilization, and affecting maternal and infant health.[35][36] Reasons for large families include tradition, religion, the low status of women and the cultural desire to have several sons.[35][37]

Historically, Australia has had a relatively low fertility rate, reaching a high of 3.14 births per woman in 1960.[38] This was followed by a decline which continued until the mid-2000, when a one off cash incentive was introduced to reverse the decline. In 2004, the then Howard government introduced a non-means tested 'Maternity Payment' to parents of every newborn as a substitute to maternity leave. The payment known as the 'Baby Bonus' was A$3000 per child. This rose to A$5000 which was paid in 13 installments.[39]

At a time when Australia's unemployment was at a 28-year low of 5.2%, the then Treasurer Peter Costello stated there was opportunity to go lower. With a good economic outlook for Australia, Costello held the view that now was a good time to expand the population, with his famous quote that every family should have three children "one for mum, one for dad and one for the country".[40] Australia's fertility rate reached a peak of 1.95 children per woman in 2010, a 30-year high,[38] although still below replacement rate.

France has been successful in increasing fertility rates from the low levels seen in the late 1980s, after a continuous fall in the birth rate.[42] In 1994, the total fertility rate was as low as 1.66, but perhaps due to the active family policy of the government in the mid-1990s, it has increased, and maintained an average of 2.0 from 2008 until 2015.[42]

France has embarked on a strong incentive policy based on two key measures to restore the birth rate: family benefits (les allocations familiales) and a family-coefficient of income tax (le quotient familial).[43] Since the end of World War II, early family policy in France has been based on a family tradition that requires children to support multi-child family, so that a third child enables a multi-child family to benefit from family allowances and income tax exemptions.[43] This is intended to allow families with three children to enjoy the same living standards as households without children.[43] 041b061a72

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