July 24, 2012 — A Los Angeles Times series published Sunday examined the causes and consequences of rapid population growth around the world. There are more than three billion individuals worldwide under age 25 -- the largest generation in history -- and this group will determine the rate at which the world's population continues to grow.
If the worldwide average birthrate declines from its current rate of 2.5 children per woman to 2.1, the United Nations estimates that the world's population will rise to 9.3 billion by 2050, up from seven billion today. However, if the birthrate remains at its current level, the world's population is projected to reach 11 billion by 2050, significantly affecting developing countries where food, water and land are already scarce, according to the Times.
According to the Times, stabilizing the world's population is dependent upon reducing birthrates in developing nations. However, many initiatives are ineffective because certain populations are hard to reach, culturally unreceptive or politically unstable.
In the U.S., contraception and family planning initiatives have become caught up in the abortion debate and international funding for such programs has remained flat for nearly 20 years. In developing countries, family planning programs are inconsistent and vary based on each nation's leadership. Although contraception use has increased globally, it remains low in rural parts of Africa and South Asia, according to the Times (Weiss , Los Angeles Times, 7/22).
For the series, the Times examined population growth rates in numerous countries.
In South Africa, Pregnant Teens Struggle To Stay in School, Report Finds
In related news, tens of thousands of girls in South Africa drop out of school annually because of pregnancy, according to a report by the nation's Department of Basic Education, the Los Angeles Times reports. In 2009, there were 73 pregnancies per 1,000 teenagers ages 15 to 19 in South Africa, according the report.
More than 45,000 girls enrolled in school became pregnant in 2009, including 109 third-graders, according to the report.
Farshid Meidany of the South African arm of Medical Care Development International said many factors contribute to pregnant teens dropping out and not returning to school, including "discrimination by teachers and colleagues" (Dixon, Los Angeles Times, 7/22).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership