Examples of High Fertility: India, Mexico & Jordan

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  • 00:00 Global Fertility
  • 1:30 Fertility in Jordan
  • 3:11 Fertility in Mexico
  • 4:43 Fertility in India
  • 5:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Fertility rates across the globe are stabilizing, but still high in many areas. In this lesson, explore fertility rates and trends in India, Mexico, and Jordan, and test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Global Fertility

Let's talk about where babies come from. They come from a stork; everybody knows that!

Across the world, there are nations that have experienced extremely high rates of fertility, or rates of birth, over the last half-century or so. Now, this has put our poor hypothetical stork under a lot of pressure, working overtime, nights, weekends, etc. However, this fertility boom was not entirely unexpected. Since the early 20th century, the world has been developing global industrial economies and as this happens, people noticed that nations went through similar trends. The hypothesis that nations will undergo similar changes in fertility and mortality as they industrialize is called the demographic transitions theory.

The pattern starts with increasing fertility and decreasing mortality, creating a population boom, then moves to more stable population growth with a lower fertility rate. This general pattern has been observed in places like Jordan, Mexico, and India, regions with high but stable fertility. While there are exceptions to this theory, in general, nations do see similar patterns of birth and death rates as they develop industrial economies. So, sorry, Mr. Stork, but you really should have seen this coming!

Fertility in Jordan

Let's follow the stork on some of his routes and see for ourselves what's going on in the world.

Looks like our first stop is Jordan. This isn't surprising; many of the Arabic-speaking nations in this region have been experiencing population growth over the last few decades. Jordan's birthrate since the 1990s has remained high but pretty stable, right at just over an average of 3 children per adult woman. In fact, it's actually slowly going down. While it was at 3.5 in 1995, it was down to 3.2 by 2010. That's not a huge decrease, but still, that's good news for our stork.

What we are seeing in Jordan is actually completely in line with what we expect according to the demographic transition theory. Before Jordan developed a major industrial economy, their birth and death rates were both high and unpredictable. That's common in areas without industrial economies.

As Jordan industrialized from the 1950s to 1970s, death rates dropped and fertility increased, both as a result of better medical technology. So they had a population boom. Then, from the 1970s to early 2000s, death rates and birth rates both decreased. That's common. As nations fully industrialize, there tend to be more economic and educational opportunities for women, so people often choose to have smaller families and the population stabilizes. That's where Jordan is today, with a stable, steadily growing population as medical care continues to improve but more women are entering the workforce.

Fertility in Mexico

Jordan is a great example of what we expect to see according to the demographic transition theory. But it's not the only example. Let's look at Mexico, another nation that has seen a substantial change in fertility over the last decade. Throughout the earlier 20th century, Mexican fertility rates were around 6 children per adult female, which is really high. Then in the 1970s, death rates decreased and fertility increased, just like they did in Jordan during industrialization. At this point, Mexican fertility was as high as an average of 7.2 children per adult female. That's a very high rate and so the Mexican population grew really fast. Generally, you don't want that much growth; that puts a lot of stress on the state.

Luckily, Mexico's population stabilized, just like Jordan's, once the industrial economy was more uniformly implemented across the nation. The national fertility rate in Mexico now is at 2.2 children per adult female, which is much more sustainable. However, this is a great example of how these numbers can be a bit deceiving. While the overall fertility is stable, this changes by region. Rural areas of Mexico, where birth control and medical care are not as available, still have much higher fertility rates than the urban centers, which can cause problems for local governments.

Fertility in India

Looks like the last stop for the stork today is India. Now, currently, India's fertility rates are around an average of 2.5 children per adult female. Fertility has been an issue in this country. India had a massive population boom throughout the 20th century and actually was one of the first nations to start implementing policies designed to decrease fertility way back in the 1950s. Now, India's fertility, like that of Jordan and Mexico, has gone through some predictable ups and downs.

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