Total fertility rate (1955 & 2015)

Total fertility rate (1950 – 1955)

Total fertility rate (1950 - 1955)

Total fertility rate (2010 – 2015)

Total fertility rate (2010 - 2015)

The overall drop in the human fertility rate has been pronounced. In countries ranging from China, to Iran, to Libya, to Brazil it has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Middle (Tropical) Africa, and especially the western portion of the region, forms the major exception to this pattern. Here, several counties had higher Total Fertility Rate figures in 2010-2015 than they did in 1950-1955.   In Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, the respective numbers are 6.15 Gabon Fertility Graphand 5.98. Gabon also ended up in a higher category in the 2010-2015 map than on the 1950-1955 map, although the actual difference between its Total Fertility Rate in these two periods is not statistically significant: 4.00 and 3.99. As the graph shows, Gabon’s Total Fertility Rate did not stay the same during this period, but rather rose gradually and then began to decline gradually. Similar graphs can be found for other countries in Middle Africa.

It is quite significant that extremely high fertility figures are now mostly confined to tropical Africa, with only a few exceptions (such as Afghanistan and East Timor). It also seem to me that this phenomenon has been under-reported. Certainly most of my own students come into class with the impression that high fertility rates characterize most of the word’s less-developed countries.


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