Fertility and poverty

Harry responds to the BNC comment by Jess, on 16 August 2011 at 2:08 AM said:

1. How rapidly can we lift the poorest to a level where population growth is curtailed? Obviously the sooner we achieve this, the lower the peak.

It’s about 30 years from the point of universal education for woman coupled with opportunities to have a value to society other then producing children(I.E. gainful employment) that fertility rates begin to drop.(The Saudi Experience) Then it’s another 60 years from the point fertility rates drop until population levels off.

More from Harry on the Saudi evidence:

Tom Keen, on 16 August 2011 at 12:58 PM said:

@ harrywr2

Population growth rate has been declining since the early 1970s.

I assume you mean on a localised level? Do you have references for the 30 year & 60 year figures?

In Saudi Arabia universal education for girls was instituted in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s. My reference is I was there when it occurred. The Saudi’s wanted some tanks and we(The US) wanted some ‘social liberation’ in exchange.

According to the CIA the current ‘fertility rate’ in Saudi Arabia is 2.31

According to the UN the ‘fertility rate’ in Saudi Arabia in 1980 was 7

Once the fertility rate drops to replacement(2.0 to 2.2 depending on who you ask) we still have about 60 years before population levels off.
If we simply divide population into 4 ages groups, 1-20,21-40,41-60,61-80. It’s 60 yeas from the time the number of 1 year olds equals the number of 21 year olds to the time the number of 1 year olds equals the number of 80 year olds. I.E. Birth rate = death rate.

According to the CIA the current world average fertility rate is 2.46.
So we have not yet gotten down to ‘replacement’ fertility rates.

Notable large countries that have not yet gotten down to replacement fertility rates are Pakistan at 3.17 and India at 2.62

The female literacy rate in Pakistan is 36%, in India it is 47%, in Saudi Arabia it is 70%.
Source – https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2103.html#in

If we look at ‘female school life expectancy(how long a female is currently expected to attend school)…it’s a better parameter , whether or not females that are beyond child bearing age are illiterate doesn’t have an impact on current fertility rates…

Females in Pakistan go to school on average 6 years, In India it’s 10 years, In Saudi Arabia it’s 13 years.

Source – https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2205.html#in

If I then compare Indonesia to Egypt…both relatively poor countries with predominantly Muslim populations…

Indonesia – https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/id.html

Egypt -https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/eg.html

The fertility rate in Egypt is 2.97 with a female literacy rate of 59%
The fertility rate in Indonesia is 2.25 with a female literacy rate of 86%. Per Capita GDP(PPP) is actually higher in Egypt by $2,000.

Here is a scholarly study on the link between female literacy and fertility rates that was done in 1990

Here are some old statistics on India

It took India 40 years,from 1951 to 1991 to move their female literacy rates from 8% to 39% and if the statistics from the CIA quoted above are accurate,another 20 years to move their female literacy rate from 39% to 47%.

According to UNESCO there are currently 510 million illiterate females in the world, 79 million between the ages of 15 and 24.


The Saudi Government had an almost limitless source of cash to throw at their female illiteracy problem and it took them 30 years.

[From Comment on A critique of the 2011 IPCC Report on Renewable Energy by harrywr2]