Aug 20 2007

IB: Economic development and fertility rates in India

How the World Works: Who Invented Calculus? –

IB students, here’s a blog post you’ll want to read closely once we start studying economic development later this semester. Andrew Leonard at refers to a study titled “Does Economic Growth Reduce Fertility? Rural India 1971-1999”.

Interesting stuff. Leonard points out a peculiar paradox of growth in India:

India’s Green Revolution has been criticized by those who wonder if an agricultural model reliant on large inputs of fertilizers and pesticides is environmentally sustainable over the long run. But if in the short run these spikes in agricultural productivity contribute to population stabilization, then we have a nifty paradox: a (possibly) unsustainable agricultural model contributing to (possibly) sustainable population levels.

This article and the study it refers to might make for an interesting commentary for your internal assessment, or as a source for an extended essay on growth and development. Any opinions on the supposed correlation between economic growth and decreased fertility?

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About the author:  Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “IB: Economic development and fertility rates in India”

  1. Reta Angladeon 30 Nov 1999 at 1:00 am

    so fit ing

  2. Wan Jin Parkon 20 Aug 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Such a correlation may very well exist in a LEDC, in which the majority of the population is impoverished–and among those, a great deal are below the poverty line. I cannot exactly remember where I read this…I think it was in Freaknomoics…but I do remember reading about a correlation between poverty and the propensity to reproduce. Now I am not saying that poor people enjoy procreation more than rich people–having children may actually burden the poor family even more. However, poor people often are not able or do not consider "worth it" to purchase condoms; since sexual drive is not readily suppressed, that leads to..tadaaa children. Having said that, there also is a tendency for poor people to have multiple children for economic reasons–some believe that with more "pillars" in a family, it can be better off economically in the future.

    In a nation where population growth is rampant, what can stop this unhindered procreation more effectively than sterilization, brought on by pollution of unsustaiable economic growth methods?

    However, when it comes to MEDCs, this correlation becomes more questionable. First off, rich people can buy condoms, and lots of them too (how many types do durex produce anyways??). Secondly, unlike a poor family, a rich family does not expect their child to grow and work in the agricultural or industrial sector (where sheer number of manpower is the key to success). Instead, they expect their children to enter a career demanding more intellectual prowess–an economist, scientist, businessmen…you know. In order to ensure a child's success in such career, it's all about investing in him/her–thus rich families tend to have a limited number of children, to whom the parents devote and concentrate their resources.

    In such MEDCs, population is ALREADY increasing very slowly, or even decreasing, such as in the case of Japan or numerous European countries. In such a case, unsustainable economic growth practiced by other LEDCs (pollution cant be contained!) will further decrease the number of children born, leading to a destabilization of population.

  3. Pain relieveron 17 Jan 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Pain reliever

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