Economic Problems Deter Population Growth

Although the country’s population growth has slowed considerably compared to the past decades, it is not correct to say that Iran is facing a reproductive health crisis
According to the Health Ministry, last year 1.2 million births were registered.According to the Health Ministry, last year 1.2 million births were registered.

Iran’s population reached 80.4 million at the end of the seven months of the current fiscal year that started in March 2016. The population growth rate that was 3.7% in 1980 decreased to 1.4% in 2016, slowing down markedly after it peaked in the mid-1970 and 1980s.

During the tenure of the previous government (2005-2013), a report on the country’s demography suggested that the median age was expected to increase from 28 in 2013 to 40 by 2030 and that the population growth rate would decline to zero by the year 2050.

The figures also indicated that Iran will likely face “a reproductive health crisis due to the declining population of women or future mothers in the country,” the Persian-language newspaper Sharq reported.

The sharp decline in the total fertility rate was predicted to seriously impact the population growth rate and raise new demographic challenges, including an aging population and a shrinking labor force that by extension would encourage foreign migration to the country.

The current TFR of 1.8 which is the lowest among Islamic countries, and even below the world average of 2.1 births per woman, is a big decline from the mid-1970s and the 1980s when it was 6.4. It is also seen as posing a major challenge to the national population growth rate that at present is 1.3%. The current global population growth rate is around 1.1%.

Measures to reverse the declining birth rate included: replacing public-health slogans such as “Fewer kids, better life” with billboards that showed large, happy families, and increasing the already generous paternity and maternity leave.

In June 2014, as part of the plan to boost population growth rate, the Majlis (parliament) banned vasectomies and tubal ligation and introduced penalties for those involved in encouraging contraceptive services and abortions or any other form of birth control, including 2 to 5 years imprisonment.

 “Although the country’s population growth has slowed considerably compared to the past decades, it is not correct to say that Iran is facing a population crisis,” says Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, professor of demography at the University of Tehran (UT) and director of the National Institute of Population Research.

According to the Health Ministry, last year 1.2 million people were added to the population (there were 1.57 million births and 370,000 deaths) and the same trend is expected for the current Iranian year that ends in March.

Based on figures from the report released in 2010, it was estimated that the country’s median age would increase from 26.7 in 2010 to 37.5 in 2030.

  Predictions Not Accurate

The report further stated that the fertility rate would decrease to 0.8 live births per woman. “However, currently, the figure is 1.8 births per woman which indicates that the population forecasts in the report are not accurate,” Abbasi-Shavazi pointed out.

“There are several factors related to population growth and the rate cannot be estimated based on the fertility rates alone.”

Other primary determinants of population growth include life expectancy and mortality rates, as well as employment and migration.

Population projections allow government and other institutions to plan and help individuals comprehend the likely future of their national economies. “However the forecasts should be scientific and accurate,” he stressed.

The problem of a decline in the population cannot be addressed solely by increasing the fertility rate. “For each 1% population growth, the economic growth rate should increase by 3%,” he said.

Economic issues are major deterrents in the way of larger families in Iran. The high cost of living, galloping inflation, high levels of joblessness among the educated youth, and the large number of educated women who outnumber men at the university level, are among the primary reasons for delayed marriages and single-child families.

Without taking into consideration people’s economic and social needs, it is unlikely that married couples will opt for larger families.

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