John Robertson

Iran is a dramatic example of the interaction of religion, changing social mores, health and lifestyle on economic growth outcomes. The chart, based on data from ‘UN World Population Prospects’ shows the trend in the number of children born per Iranian woman in each five year period since 1950. The decline from 6.91 to 1.62 is only greater in Singapore and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In 1950, of the 6,910 children to which 1000 Iranian women would have given birth, on average, 2,059 would have died before reaching the age of five. A consistently falling death rate means that only 24 of the 1,620 children now born per 1000 Iranian women will die before reaching five years of age. The welcome improvement in infant health will have removed some of the pressure for a high birth rate but the full strategic impact of the reaction among Iran’s female population has yet to be felt. The 1,596 survivors past the age of five are not enough to keep Iran’s current population of 80 million people growing over the longer term.


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