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July 28, 2011

Education is a key determinant of population growth

Future trends in global population growth could be significantly affected by improvements in both the quality and quantity of education, particularly female education. Projections of future population trends that do not explicitly include education in their analysis may be flawed, according to research published in the journal Science.

The research reinforces earlier findings that the level of formal education achieved by women is, in most cases, the single most important determinant of population growth. More educated women generally have fewer children, better general health, and higher infant survival rates. Education also appears to be a more important determinant of child survival than household income and wealth. The study also found that if concerted efforts were made to fast track education, the global population could remain below 9 billion by 2050. Thus the global population outlook depends greatly on further progress in education.



"The most ambitious, or 'fast track' (FT) scenario we apply assumes all countries expand their school system at the fastest possible rate—this is comparable with past, best performing countries, Singapore and South Korea, says co-author Samir K.C.."The most pessimistic scenario of 'constant enrollment numbers' (CEN), assumes no new schools are built and the number of people attending schools remains constant, which, under conditions of population growth, means declining enrolment rates."

"Under these two extreme scenarios, population size in 2050 could vary by as much as 1 billion–with 8.8 billion people expected under the fast track scenario and as many as 9.9 billion under the constant enrolment numbers scenario

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