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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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Turkey's President Erdogan Wants a Higher Birth Rate

Yesterday's big demographic news was the speech by Turkish President Erdogan in which he urged women to avoid birth control and have more babies. Well, not just any woman. As BBC News reported, he was specific about the call for babies going out to Muslim women.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslims to reject contraception and have more children. In a speech broadcast live on TV, he said "no Muslim family" should consider birth control or family planning. "We will multiply our descendants," said Mr Erdogan, who became president in August 2014 after serving as prime minister for 12 years. His AK Party has its roots in Islamism and many of its supporters are conservative Muslims.
To be sure, fertility has fallen to replacement in Turkey in very recent years, but the population is still very young and so there will continue to be more babies born than people dying for several decades. The UN demographers project Turkey's population to grow from its current 78 million to 94 million by mid-century. But that obviously is not the issue with Erdogan, who made a similar proposal last year, as I noted then. Last year's pronatalist proposal by Turkey was matched by one from its next-door neighbor, Iran. Despite Turkey being predominantly Sunni Muslim and Iran being predominantly Shia Muslim, the two countries have nearly identical population sizes (right around 80 million in each case), and at or below replacement fertility. The real issue in both countries, at least in my view, is that low fertility is associated with greater education and labor force participation for women, which raises their status in society and raises their expectations about their role in society. The male leaders of Iran and Turkey do not seem to appreciate this trend, even though in the long run we know that it will create better societies in both nations.

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