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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life Expectancy Going Down, Not Up in Iraq and South Africa

The World Health Organization has just released its latest set of life tables for countries around the world, and while life expectancy generally continues its upward trend, there are some notable exceptions, especially Iraq, where: 

...the average life expectancy in Iraq fell to 66 years in 2009 from 68 years in 2000, when dictator Saddam Hussein was still in power.
But while Iraqi girls born in 2009 — the most recent year for which figures are available — could still expect to live to 70, boys' life expectancy dropped sharply to 62 years, compared with 65 years in 2000.
"The figures reflect the chaos from the conflict and the impact on health systems," said Colin Mathers, one of the coordinators of WHO's annual World Health Statistics report.
In South Africa, life expectancy for women fell to 55 years from 59 years in 2000 and 68 years in 1990 — a reflection of the country's high HIV infection rate. Men's life expectancy in 2009 remained stable at 54 years compared with the figure nine years earlier, but was down from 59 in 1990.
Chad, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica were the only other countries where average life expectancy dropped between 2009 and 2000.
The situation in Iraq is obviously noteworthy. Since the US invasion in 2003, life expectancy has declined a bit, and fertility has declined a bit, but the total fertility rate is still at nearly five children per woman. Because of this, the population is still very young (and very poor) and the total population is expected by 2025 to be twice what it was at the time of the invasion. None of those demographic statistics is very promising for the future.

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