This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Demographically Induced Disaster Looms for Nigeria

In 1950 Nigeria was already the 14th most populous country in the world, but it had "only" 32 million people back then. At the moment the population is estimated to be 183 million, putting it 7th most populous in the world. But UN projections suggest that it could reach nearly 400 million by 2050--a more than 10-fold increase over a century--at which point only India and China would be more populous. The reason for this continued rapid growth is, of course, high fertility. The latest Demographic and Health Survey (2013) showed that the average woman in Nigeria is having 5.5 children. This is not much lower than the 6.0 children per woman back in 1990. Furthermore, the usual predictors like education are not playing their usual roles. For example, fertility levels have been going up, not down, among the most educated women. This could all spell disaster soon for Nigeria. Indeed, it may already be disaster, as a Reuters story suggested yesterday. The story begins with these three main points:
* Nigeria set to become third most populous nation by 2050
* Infrastructure cannot keep pace amid budget crisis
* Unemployed join Boko Haram or head to Europe
Ouch! The story then adds some depressing details.
President Muhammadu Buhari's budget plan for this year boosts investment in new roads, railways and power supply in the hope of dragging his nation of 188 million out of deep poverty.
But in Lagos, home to 23 million, spending is quickly outpaced by the growth of the city's population by thousands every day, from both a high birthrate and the migration of people from rural areas looking for work.
Some 1.2 million commuters head into Lagos each day. The three connecting bridges from the vast slum districts on the mainland are jammed until late morning.
"There are too many unemployed people," said Antoine. But while complaining about the crowds, the 37-year-old wants plenty of children himself.
"My parents had 12 so don't expect me to go for two children only, but rather six or seven," he said.
As is true also in Venezuela, a huge chunk of Nigeria's federal budget comes from oil and the drop in oil prices has hammered the economy. In the meantime, no one wants to talk about or use birth control, perhaps partly because of the demographic divide--Christians in the South, Muslims in the North--and neither group wants to give any ground demographically.

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