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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Friday, September 14, 2012

Children Are Surviving in Greater Numbers

Thanks to Vassy Lerinska for pointing me to a story covered by BBC News on the progress being made to bring down the death rate among children in developing countries.
Some 6.9 million children died before the age of five last year, compared to 12 million such deaths in 1990. Almost 19,000 under-fives died daily in 2011.
Last year, half of global under-fives deaths occurred in just five countries, Unicef said - India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China.
While some of the improvement was the indirect result of poverty reduction in developing countries, UNICEF argues that the biggest gains have been made in those countries receiving the most direct assistance. UNICEF clearly has a vested interest in that interpretation, but in fact it is consistent with the widespread transfer of death control knowledge and methods that has been taking place especially since the end of World War II.

Of course, the story does not talk about the unintended consequences of keeping more children alive when the birth rate is not dropping at a commensurate level.


  1. Great paper here on Muslim demographics:

  2. This post links with the second chapter in the sense that lately due to the decrease in mortality under 5 due to the better health services we have and technology, the chances of people to survive to an adulthood are greater, among other facts like increases in life expectancy.

    Especially in 3th world countries will population as a booming a small changes in life expectancy and mortality lead to a huge amount of the number of people.

  3. UNICEF, it seems does have a vested interest in the areas that it provides aid to, certainly. The spread of knowledge about public health and particularly of reproductive health is a major factor that contributes to the survival rates of children under five years old. Countries that receive aid from UNICEF the 5 mentioned in the article and your blog post have perhaps received the most educational aid and public health relief efforts and UNICEF choses to speak to this for PR purposes. The bigger solution to arrive at is what next? We have more people surviving, how does the world accommodate bigger concerns; scales of public health and food supply without exploitation for the purposes of corporate world economic gai.n

  4. So UNICEF is helping to transfer the 'death control knowledge,' but who is going to transfer the birth control knowledge? Isn't that just as important? According to the Population Reference Bureau, Pakistan(8/1000), India(7/1000), and China(7/1000) have equal or lower death rates than the U.S., which has 8 deaths per 1000 people (8/1000). I am not saying that we shouldn't be working to decrease infant mortality in Nigeria, Dem, Rep. Congo, or other states with higher infant mortality, but surely it would be just as beneficial to help India and Pakistan decrease their fertility instead of attempting to lower their infant mortality even further. As Weeks states in the last sentence, "this story does not not talk about the unintended consequences of keeping more children alive when the birth rate is not dropping at a commensurate level." The consequence is excessive population growth amid shrinking resources. Another consequence is a larger youth bulge once the mortality/ fertility gap is closed. As we have seen in many of the North African/ southwest Asian states, youth bulges can create conflict and unprecedented political, cultural, and economic change.