Saturday, 30th September 2023

Nigeria ranks 8th most fertile country as global rate drops by 50%

By Chukwuma Muanya
24 April 2023   |   3:06 am
Despite a fascinating chart that highlights how the world is in the midst of a reproduction crisis — as developed countries fall out of love with having children, African countries top chart of most fertile nations in the world with Nigeria ranking eight.

Nigerian farmers SOURCE: Google

Despite a fascinating chart that highlights how the world is in the midst of a reproduction crisis — as developed countries fall out of love with having children, African countries top chart of most fertile nations in the world with Nigeria ranking eighth.

According to the report published yesterday by DailyMailUK, in 2020, the global average fertility rate – the average number of children born to each woman – was 2.3, compared to 4.7 in 1970 — a staggering 51 per cent drop over a half-century. Swathes of Europe and North America are recording fewer than a two births per woman average.

The study is entitled, “The New Economics of Fertility”, suggests that as fertility rates shrink in much of the world, they continue to grow in Africa. Thirty-one of the top 32 countries with the highest fertility rates are on the continent, with Niger in the first spot with a rate of 6.9 children per woman.

All of the world’s leaders in fertility rate are in Africa. Somalia (6.4), Chad (6.4), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.2), Mali (6.0), the Central African Republic (6.0), Angola (5.4), Nigeria (5.3), Burundi (5.2) and Benin (5.1) make up the top ten countries in terms of fertility rates, all of which have rates of over 6.0.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the total fertility rate in Nigeria remained nearly unchanged at around 5.31 children per woman. But still, the fertility rate reached its lowest value of the observation period in 2020.

A study, titled: “Fertility and Population Explosion in Nigeria: Does Income Actually Count?” concluded that rising population without adequate policies and programmes to tackle its attendant socio-economic and political vices could spell doom to a nation.

The study was published by researchers led by Ubong Edem Effiong, Ubong Ekerete Udonwa and John Polycarp Ekpe are from the Department of Economics, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; and Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.

The researchers concluded: “The teeming population in Nigeria has been under-utilised given the rising unemployment which has created a diverse socio-economic and political crisis in the country. Meanwhile, an estimate of 401.3 million has been put forth to be the population of Nigeria by 2050 and ranked as the third most populous country in the world. This raises some concerns on the future of Nigeria – will it make good of the population or will be bewildered with the impending population explosion?

“Studies has shown that population growth has positive and significant sway on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of a nation; while some has recorded a negative effect. Since income growth does not have any substantial influence on population growth and birth rate, this paper concludes that income does not matter in the rising population growth arising from higher birth rate.

The quest for natural procreation and the thought that children are investment could be the other key issues that could be driving high birth rate accompanied by the rising population in the country.”

Indeed, countries leading the world in fertility are generally poorer nations that score poorly on developmental indexes, have poorer sexual education and access to contraception.

A study had highlighted “new fertility facts” that are challenging old theories on the relationship between childbearing, years of education and income level.

It pointed out low-income countries, such as Nigeria and other African countries, as the only places where the negative relationship between income and fertility rate still holds sway.

The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs said Nigeria would become the world’s fourth most populous country in the next 28 years with a population of 375 million.

The projection comes with a foreboding of escalation of the social ills of overpopulation including unemployment, food crisis and crime rates.

Nigeria’s growth had buckled under a fast-growing population in recent times until 2021 when the gross domestic product (GDP) got an upper hand at 3.6 per cent compared with the average population growth of 2.6 per cent in the past decade.

Although the country acts fast, experts are worried about the dire consequence of overpopulation even as the country is estimated to have hit 216 million.

While Nigeria is worried about bloated size, the study entitled, ‘The New Economics of Fertility’ raises concern about emerging ultralow fertility in high-income countries like Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain where the fertility rate is about 1.5 in the past two decades.

The rate, the researchers are worried, is below the average of “just over two children per woman needed to maintain a stable population size.”

South Korea finds itself holding the dubious honour of having the world’s lowest fertility rate, with each woman having 0.8 children, on average. In both the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK), the fertility rate in 2020 was 1.6.

The study suggests that as parents get richer, they invest more in the “quality” (for example, education) of their children. This investment is costly, so parents choose to have fewer children as incomes rise. Historically fertility and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita are strongly negatively related, both across countries and over time.

According to the report, the downward trend in fertility rates in the developed world is the result of multiple factors: women are having children much later in life as they prioritise careers; couples are also settling down and getting married much later, which narrows women’s biological window to have children; and declining fertility among men is also thought to be playing a role, linked to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles.

But some commentators – including Elon Musk – fear-declining fertility rates could lead to a stagnant population, destroying many nations’ economies and overwhelming public support systems.

According to the World Bank data, 106 nations have fertility rates below 2.1; benchmark experts say is needed for a country to maintain its current population. Three countries – South Korea, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico – have rates below 1.0.

Also among the worst in the world are Macau (1.0 fertility rate), Singapore (1.1), Malta (1.1), Ukraine (1.2), Spain (1.2), Italy (1.2) and China (1.3).

Dr. Melissa Kearney, an economic professor at the University of Maryland, told that the developed world was shifting away from traditional family values.

She said in January: “There has been a greater emphasis on spending time building careers. Adults are changing their attitudes towards having kids.

“They are choosing to spend money and time in different ways… that are coming into conflict with parenting.”

She continued that younger people are also showing more interest in leisure activities and travel now than they did before, on top of career building.

“Wanting to travel just comes into conflict with parenting,” she said.

Many have pointed to high costs of childcare, student debt held by Americans in their early 20s and other financial pressures.

A report by the First Five Year Fund found that the costs of raising a child have increased 220 percent over the last three decades – with it costing around $10,000 per year to raise a child under the age of six.

From a Rome hospital after three nights at the start of this month because of a bronchial infection. It was the pope’s second stay in hospital since 2021, and he has increasingly suffered with health issues in recent years. He now uses a wheelchair because of knee pain. Pope Francis has participated in various events since his hospital release, including washing the feet of 12 young prisoners on Holy Thursday.

He also presided over the Vigil mass — a 2 1/2 hour ceremony before 8,000 people — in the Vatican basilica on Saturday evening. At that service, he lamented the “icy winds of war” and other injustices.

However, Francis did not attend the annual ‘Way of the Cross’ prayer service on Good Friday as a precautionary measure because of cold weather.