UPDATED OCTOBER 30, 2011
First of all, what are global population rates? Scary stories abound...usually headlined The Population Bomb. We are overpopulating the planet, apparently. But is that true?
A hidden revolution is going on around the world, and it's down to women being educated and controlling how many children they have. UN statistics say that the average woman today has 2.5 children. In Iran it's about 1.8. In India, it's 2.8. In Brazil it's 2.2. Also, see this: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110511/full/473125a.html.
The global population could very well go into reverse by the middle of the 21st century. That means, a glut of older people and not enough young people.
The UN Population Division in 2002, predicted a population decline, and many countries are not replacing their populations. See: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2002/WPP2002-HIGHLIGHTSrev1.PDF.
It remains to be seen if poverty will be reduced along with the global population, as it is currently believed.
What we do know is that there is over consumption by advanced countries.
“The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86% of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.” (Shah, Global Issues, 2011).
“The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold”.1 (Factoids, 2011).
Today we are in a period called ‘neo-colonialism” which refers to the institutional ways that the rich nations impose unequal economic relations on the former colonies. This is done through loans by rich countries that impose conditions that aren’t healthy for poor populations. These conditions (called STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMS or SAPs) often include the privatization of state services such as health and education, which puts them out of the reach of the poor. SAPS introduce cheap goods that undercut local production, or insist on cash crops like coffee for Western markets, rather than food stuffs to feed the population.
Western governments fail to offset over-consumption by Western nations.
Let's look at a case study: Niger.
The current population of Niger is 16,468,886 with a population growth rate of 3.643%. (CIA Fact book) The estimated life expectancy for the total population is 53.4 years with 14.11 deaths/1,000.(CIA Fact book)
Here is my question: Is a growth rate of 3.6 percent so terrible that it justifies the very high mortality rate and the extreme poverty of Niger? It's actually very similar (3.28) to the rate of the population growth of United Arab Emirates, which isn't known for its high poverty levels, and people can expect to live to 76 years of age, in the UAE.
See these statistics about population growth rates globally:
My personal belief is that a woman and her partner, should both make decisions about reproduction. Clearly, there is a reason to restrict multiple and frequent births, given the impact on women’s health, but this needs to be balanced by a study of resource availability on a global scale. Before Malthusian type policies are enacted, it would be best to that advanced countries start consuming at a more sustainable rate.