The Unmet Need for Family Planning; Endangered Earth; Exclusive Online Issues; by Malcolm Potts; 5 Page(s)
During 1999, the world's population surged past the six-billion mark. The most recent billion was added in just 12 years. Such numerical milestones, like this month's calendrical rollover, are of course just arbitrary artifacts of our decimal counting system, yet they offer a suitable occasion for taking stock of important trends. Worldwide, the average number of children born to each woman - the fertility rate - has declined over the past three decades, from almost six to 2.9, prompting some commentators to venture that overpopulation may no longer be a threat.
They are mistaken. Global population is still increasing by about 78 million people - a number equivalent to a new Germany - each year. Moreover, because large families were common in most of the world until recently, many countries have very large numbers of young people.