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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Monday, August 11, 2014

Can the Government of Iran Raise the Birth Rate?

Not long ago I noted that the low birth rate in Iran is likely due to the economic uncertainty facing the country, in combination with a well-educated population of men and women who know that a small family can be economically beneficial. The Iranian government has been worried about this for some time and has just outlawed permanent contraception, except for medical emergencies (an enlightened caveat that probably would not have been allowed had the bill been designed by Republican right-wingers in the US).
Ayatollah Khamenei expressed alarm last winter about the conspicuous decline in births in Iran, saying he was “shaking with fear” about demographic trends that could reduce population growth to zero. The number of children per couple has fallen to 1.3 from a peak of 3.6 in the years after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Many young couples have said they are fearful of bringing children into the world, given Iran’s weak economy and isolation from Western sanctions.
Of course, this is unlikely to do much for the birth rate, since couples seem to be waiting to have children in an uncertain economy, rather than necessarily deciding now that they want no more children.

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