Baby boom for some nations, bust for others: study

The IHME found that Cyprus was the least fertile nation on Earth, with the average woman giving birth just once in her life. (AP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Baby boom for some nations, bust for others: study

  • Ninety-one nations, mainly in Europe and North and South America, weren’t producing enough children to sustain their current populations, according to the IHME study
  • In Africa and Asia fertility rates continued to grow, with the average woman in Niger giving birth to seven children during her lifetime

PARIS: Soaring birth rates in developing nations are fueling a global baby boom while women in dozens of richer countries aren’t producing enough children to maintain population levels there, according to figures released Friday.
A global overview of birth, death and disease rates evaluating thousands of datasets on a country-by-country basis also found that heart disease was now the single leading cause of death worldwide.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), set up at the University of Washington by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used more than 8,000 data sources — more than 600 of them new — to compile one of the most detailed looks at global public health.
Their sources included in-country investigations, social media and open-source material.
It found that while the world’s population skyrocketed from 2.6 billion in 1950 to 7.6 billion last year, that growth was deeply uneven according to region and income.
Ninety-one nations, mainly in Europe and North and South America, weren’t producing enough children to sustain their current populations, according to the IHME study.
But in Africa and Asia fertility rates continued to grow, with the average woman in Niger giving birth to seven children during her lifetime.
Ali Mokdad, professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME, told AFP that the single most important factor in determining population growth was education.
“It is down to socioeconomic factors but it’s a function of a woman’s education,” he said. “The more a woman is educated, she is spending more years in school, she is delaying her pregnancies and so will have fewer babies.”
The IHME found that Cyprus was the least fertile nation on Earth, with the average woman giving birth just once in her life.
By contrast, women in Mali, Chad and Afghanistan have on average more than six babies.
The United Nations predicts there will be more than 10 billion humans on the planet by the middle of the century, broadly in line with IHME’s projection.
This raises the question of how many people our world can support, known as Earth’s “carrying capacity.”
Mokdad said that while populations in developing nations continue to rise, so in general are their economies growing.
This typically has a knock-on effect on fertility rates over time.
“In Asia and Africa the population is still increasing and people are moving from poverty to better income — unless there are wars or unrest,” he said.
“Countries are expected to fare better economically and it’s more likely that fertility there will decline and level out.”
Not only are there now billions more of us than 70 years ago, but we are also living longer than ever before.
The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed male life expectancy had increased to 71 years from 48 in 1950. Women are now expected to live to 76, compared with 53 in 1950.
Living longer brings its own health problems, as we age and deteriorate and place greater burdens on our health care systems.
The IHME said heart disease was now the leading cause of death globally. As recently as 1990, neonatal disorders were the biggest killer, followed by lung disease and diarrhea.
Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan had the highest death rates from heart disease, where as South Korea, Japan and France had among the lowest.
“You see less mortality from infectious diseases as countries get richer, but also more disability as people are living longer,” said Mokdad.
He pointed out that although deaths from infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis are down significantly since 1990, new, non-communicable killers have taken their place.
“There are certain behaviors that are leading to an increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Obesity is number one — it is increasing every year and our behavior is contributing to that.”


EU leaders meeting to endorse Brexit divorce deal

Updated 2 min 14 sec ago
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EU leaders meeting to endorse Brexit divorce deal

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May said the deal was the best the world’s fifth-largest economy could hope for

BRUSSELS/LONDON: European Union leaders will meet on Nov. 25 to endorse a Brexit divorce deal but British Prime Minister Theresa May was mauled by opponents, allies and mutinous members of her party who warned the agreement could sink her premiership.
May won the backing of her senior ministers after a five-hour meeting on Wednesday though she now faces the much more perilous struggle of getting parliament, which has the final say, to approve the agreement.
It is unclear when that vote might happen.
“If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalize and formalize the Brexit agreement,” European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
More than two years after the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the EU, May said the deal was the best the world’s fifth-largest economy could hope for and that the other options were leaving with no deal or thwarting Brexit.
But in a sign of just how hard the vote in the British parliament might be, Shailesh Vara, who backed EU membership in the 2016 referendum, quit on Thursday as a junior minister in May’s government.
“I cannot support the Withdrawal Agreement that has been agreed with the European Union,” Vara said as he resigned as a Northern Ireland minister.
“We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown they do not have our best interests at heart. We can and must do better than this.”
Nick Timothy, one of May’s former chiefs of staff, said her deal was a capitulation that parliament would reject.
“When parliament rejects the prime minister’s proposal, as surely it will, there will still be time for ministers to negotiate something better,” Timothy wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Timothy, who resigned after May’s botched gamble on a snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, said Britain should use its security contribution as a bargaining chip to get a better deal.
May will give a statement to parliament on Thursday on the deal which she hopes will satisfy both Brexit voters and EU supporters by ensuring close ties with the bloc after Britain leaves on March 29.
The ultimate outcome for the United Kingdom remains uncertain: scenarios range from a calm divorce to rejection of May’s deal, potentially sinking her premiership and leaving the bloc with no agreement, or another referendum.
Getting a deal through parliament will be difficult. She will need the votes of about 320 of the 650 lawmakers.
“The parliamentary arithmetic has looked tight for some time,” Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients. “It now looks tighter, given signs of greater unity among those who object to the draft Agreement.”
“We’re in the Brexs**t — Theresa May’s soft Brexit deal blasted by ALL sides,” read the headline in The Sun, Britain’s best-read newspaper.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up May’s government, said it would not back any deal that treated the British province differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.