According to the 2007 World Population record, there are around 6,606,970,166 people who live on earth (US Census Bureau, 2008). Majority of these people come from developing countries including China and India – the first and second most populated countries in the world, respectively. From among the top ten countries in the world which was comprised of up to 3. 8 billion people, around 3. 4 billion people of them was recorded to come from developing countries (US Census Bureau, 2008).
Because of these figures and taking into consideration the economic, political and social status of developing countries, analysts are wondering why fertility rates continue to increase in developing countries compared to that of their counter part developed countries. The reason behind this involves various aspects of the developing countries’ society. Total fertility rate or birth rate basically means “the number of children an average woman have assuming that she lives her full reproductive lifetime” (Centre for Cancer Education, 2007).
As stated earlier, it has been observed that the fertility rate in developing countries remains to be higher than those from the developed countries because of some familial circumstances. One of the reasons behind the fact that most parents from developing countries will have many children is that they expect that some of their children will inevitably die because of the high mortality rate and they wanted to be assured of having a child left to care for. Moreover, since many developing countries are labor-intensive and needs a large work force, having a big family will enable their business to run faster and be more efficient.
Another observable reason behind the high fertility rate is attributed to the cultural traditions of many developing countries. Since most developing countries are strongly tied with their cultural heritages, their traditional practices are still observed today even in relation to childbirth and rearing. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, for example, was accounted to have a large fertility rate because of their cultural tradition that having twelve children symbolizes the twelve tribes of Judah and that their family will be more united (Rozenbaum & Shlam, 2005).
In addition to that, many parents assume that having many children will assure people to look after them in their old age and when they are sick. But more importantly, it is perceivable that fertility rate continues to increase because many families lack family planning facilities and programs to educate them (McNeill). On the other hand, developed countries are observed to have a lower fertility rate because the standard of living in these countries are higher and having a larger family would be very expensive.
Also, as compared to many women in developing countries who are assumed to stay at home like the women in Israel, more women in developed countries tend to focus on their careers. Moreover, because of increasing sexual equality movements, many women are also observed to have greater control over their fertility. Furthermore, looking back at the premise that families in developing countries lack education on family planning, in developed countries, these facilities and programs are easily accesible and available to them including contraception or strategies to control birth like pills, cervical cap, etc… McNeill). According to the World Bank, a “natural population increase” emerges when birth rate is observably higher than death rate (World Bank).
However, with the changing envrionmental conditions, the mortality rate in developing countries is inevitably increasing. Some reasons include: poor housing conditions, unreliable water, poor access to medical services, some endemic diseases, and other health-related problems (McNeill). On the contrary, developed countries have lower death rates because they have better housing programs, accesible medical services, and nutritious food.
In all these, it is perceived that when the developing countries are juxtaposed with developed countries, a big discrepancy is observed both in the figures and in its deeper sense. Moreover, it has also been noted how mortality rate is interdependent with the fertility rate to assume a natural population growth process. Furthermore, being aware of the hindrances to the proper population increase, it is therefore an imperative to create better programs and establish facilities to be able to enhance those which are already favorable to the growth system and transform those which challenges it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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