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Home 2.World population (I) 2.1. Quantitative aspects 2.1.2. The regional inequalities of the growth

2.1.2. The regional growth inequalities

This growth of the world population rate hides big regional inequalities: the world average growth rate is 11,23‰, but not all the territories have the same intensity, since several countries even show a regressive demographic dynamics, with population decrease.


Generally speaking, the countries with the currently highest annual growth rate are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Niger is the most extreme case, as it shows a 37,77‰ annual growth rate, i.e., the country gains 37 inhabitants for every 1000 inhabitants per year. Some other countries from this region with a significant annual growth rate are: Burundi (36,99‰), Western Sahara (32,59‰), Ethiopia (32,57‰) and Democratic republic of Congo (32,37‰). In the most of the cases, the high birth rate is the phenomenon that explains this spectacular growth is, as a result of two fundamental indicators: the gross birth rate (number of births for every thousand inhabitants) and the synthetic fertility rate (average number of births that a woman can give in the course of her reproductive life).

Some other countries from the Near and Middle East show similar trends: the United Arab Emirates (36,81%) or Kuwait (35,88‰). In this case, the expansive dynamics is mostly due to the intensive immigration that both countries receive from their neighbours, since their petroleum industry allows a higher economic development.

Most of the Southeast Asia countries show a lower growth level, that is, 10-15‰ rates: India (14,01‰), Indonesia (11,22‰) or Vietnam (11,22‰), for instance. Likewise, similar rates can be found in most of the Latin American countries: Colombia (12,09‰), Brazil (11,89‰), Mexico (11,30‰) or Argentina (10,50‰).

Many of the developed countries currently show a positive population growth: United Sates of America (10,50‰) and Canada (8,14‰) are representative examples. On the other hand, United Kingdom (5,67‰) and France(5,41‰) stand out in the European continent, although their rates are lower than the previous ones. The Spanish rate (4,55‰) is slightly lower than the British and the French one. The main growth factor of these countries is the immigration, since, in most of the cases, the rate of natural increase is very low, as the birth rates are very low too.

Some other countries that show similar trends as described above are China (4,98‰), and the following Maghreb countries: Tunisia (11,94‰), Morocco (10,94‰) and  Algeria (9,79‰). The common feature that these countries share is the fact that they have had a high population growth, but the birth rate decrease —as a result of state policies for the fecundity reduction policies, in China’s case, or natural dynamics, in the African countries’ case— has influences on the global growth recession.

Accordingly, the population growth is stopping or even decreasing in more and more countries. Except for some low populated Latin American countries —as Guyana (-5,92‰) or Trinidad and Tobago (-1,03‰)— we are mainly referring to Eastern and Southern European countries: Germany (-0,57‰) or Italy (-0,61‰), which are the most significant examples. The main cause of this decline is the progressive population aging and the birth rate decrease, which can hardly be equilibrated with the international migration. Most of the Eastern European countries are in a more unfavourable position: Bulgaria (7,76‰), Ukraine (6,23‰), Russia (-4,65‰) or Romania (-2,39‰), for instance. Therefore, in addition to the mentioned aging and fecundity decrease problems, there should be added a significant emigration flow, as a result of these countries’ incorporation into the European Union, and consequently, into the freedom of movement space.

But, apart from the migrations, why do some countries have higher rates of population growth than others countries? The explanation can be found in the Demographic Transition Theory, as we are going to see it in another paragraph of this section.


MODULE "WORLD POPULATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT". Author: Joan Alberich. joan.alberich@urv.cat.
DOW/URV Chair Sustainable Development.