Africa’s Population Will Soar Dangerously Unless Women Are More Empowered

March 1, 2016 • Daily Email Recap

Africa’s Population Will Soar Dangerously Unless Women Are More Empowered

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Earth is a finite place. The more people who inhabit it, the more they must compete for its resources. Although human population has grown steadily, developments in recent decades have been encouraging. Globally, women today give birth to an average of 2.5 children, half as many as in the early 1950s. In 40 percent of the world’s nations, the fertility rate is at or below the “replacement” level of 2.1 children per woman, the number at which offspring simply take the place of their parents.
Then there is Africa, where women give birth on average to 4.7 children and the population is rising nearly three times faster than in the rest of civilization. The continent where our species arose faces a worrisome future. Fertility-the number of live births over a woman’s lifetime-remains high in most of Africa’s 54 countries. Africans have long valued large families as a matter of status and as a way to create family workers for farmland and to counteract high death rates for young children. And more babies than ever are surviving to become parents themselves. More than half the continent’s nearly 1.2 billion people are children or teenagers, a ratio that is building powerful momentum for years of expansion at a pace humanity has never known. By the end of this century, demographers now project, Africa’s inhabitants will triple or quadruple.

Current World Population


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