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Gender Imbalance Will Spark Population Crisis
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Gender Imbalance Will Spark Population Crisis

Iran will likely face a “reproductive health crisis” due to the declining population of women or “future mothers” in the country.

A heavy burden will be placed on posterity if the gender ratio is not set right, said Mohammad Eshaghi, head of the Planning and Coordination Department at the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution.

“Currently, we are facing a total fertility rate (TFR) crisis and a decline in population growth rate to 1.3% from 2.3% four years ago. Gender inequality and higher proportion of male to female newborns, is another problem,” he said, IRNA reported.

The family planning policies launched in 1981 were projected to bring down the high TFR from an average of 6.4 births per woman in 1986 to 4 in 2011, but in practice, TFR reached that figure in 1992, 19 years earlier. In 2011 it was 1.9.

 Iran’s maternal mortality ratio and adolescent fertility rate are relatively low compared to other countries similar in population demographics and economic development.

The lowest TFR is attributed to Tehran, Gilan, Isfahan and Semnan provinces, with 1.2-1.6. In Tehran, the TFR even reached zero among the higher educated segments. Studies show, the ‘medical class’ in society has the lowest rate of TFR.

The decline in TFR will seriously impact population growth and raise demographic challenges, including an aging population, shrinking labor force, and increasing number of foreign migrants into the county.

With severe setbacks to the growth rate as TFR declines, the projection for Iran’s population is 71 million in 2101.

A recent UN study says Iran’s population will reach 92 million by 2050, and stabilize to 70 million by the turn of the century.

 Seniors Increase

The most important demographic finding in the last census in Iran showed the remarkable change in the number of elderly which increased from 7.22% in 2006 to 8.20% in 2011. The population then was 75 million and comprised 50.4 % male and 49.6% female. 

As the structure of the age pyramid is reversing, in the coming years, the young population will further age. In 2011, 70.9% of the population was in the age group 15-64 years as against 69.7% in 2006. In 1986, the figure was 51.5%. In 2006, 5.2% were over 65 years of age and in 2011, the figure reached 5.7.

It is expected that in the coming decades the elderly population will further increase as life expectancy increases, given the achievements of the health system in raising public awareness on age-related disorders.

“In three decades, the younger generation, with a present average median age of 30 years, will become an aging society,” Eshaghi added.

 Eshaqi also pointed to the declining marriage rate (by 6.5%) and increase in the number of divorces (5.3%) mostly due to drug abuse.

 “Divorce by mutual consent, has increased by 87% and had to be restricted through judicial intervention.”

The mean marriage age for men is 34 years and for women, 27.

At the provincial level, these figures are 30.6 years for men and 26.7 for women in Tehran and 28.9 years for men and 24.8 for women in Isfahan. The major causes of declining fertility rates are delayed marriages and childbearing, which need to be addressed through cultural and lifestyle changes. He also pointed to the importance of steady employment, as the foundation of strong marriage.

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