[How does infant mortality affect birth rates?]

Duodecim. 1990;106(17):1187-9.
[Article in Finnish]


PIP: The demographic transition theory postulates that the reduction of the mortality of children under five years of age is followed by the reduction of fertility with delay. The world's population was 5.2 billion in 1990, which is increasing at an annual rate of 90 million, mainly in the developing countries. At the same rate of growth there will be 14 billion people by 2025. In view of the ticking population bomb the opinion can be submitted that high child mortality and repeated famines reduce the growth of population. The child survival hypothesis states that if child mortality is reduced, then eventually fertility reduction follows, with the net effect of lower growth of population. In populations living under low socioeconomic conditions, other factors have also been observed. The question arises whether fertility reduction could be influenced by family planning. Bangladesh data have demonstrated that if not a single child died in a family then the average total fertility rate (TFR) was 2.6 children; when 1 child died the number was 4.7 children; 2 child deaths meant 6.2 children; and more than 3 child deaths boosted the TFR to 8.3 children. Lactational amenorrhea also plays a role in the reduction of population growth, as in developing countries breast feeding averages 12-24 months. But recently there has been a decreasing trend in the length of breast feeding: from 32 months to 22 months in India and from 37 months to 24 months in Bangladesh. The replacement level fertility is 2.1 children, which in Finland has already dropped below this level to 1.7 children, similar to other Scandinavian countries. UN calculations show that in the developing countries 5% of budget expenditures is devoted to health care and 1.5% to family planning. If $5 billion would be expended instead of the present $3 billion, the lives of 5 million children and 300,000 mothers could be saved, which would result in the drop of fertility by 27-35%.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Birth Rate*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Population Growth
  • Pregnancy