Friday, May 10, 2013

The Astounding Decline in India's Birthrate

Last month I tangentially mentioned Paul Ehrlich:
See also: the spectacularly wrong and wrong-headed forecasts made by Paul Ehrlich for which he has been rewarded with an endowed chair at Stanford-definitely a mark against Stanford.
And fully intended to gather some of his wrong-beyond-wrong predictions.
I forgot.
I'll get around to a full post on his doom-mongering but for now here are a couple of his comments on India:

"I don't see how India could possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."
-Population Bomb, 1968 

"I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India 
will be self-sufficient in food by 1971." 
-Population Bomb, 1968

In the book's 1971 edition, the latter prediction was removed, green revolution and all that.
The World Bank estimates India's population was 511 million in January 1968.
India is feeding 700 million more people than when Ehrlich wrote his 200 mil. line.
Meet M.S. Swaminathan and his students.

There are many, many more examples but for now, you get the point.
From GeoCurrents, May 7, 2013:

India’s Plummeting Birthrate: A Television-Induced Transformation?
(Note: As can be seen, GeoCurrents has a new, more streamlined appearance. The “GeoNotes” feature has been replaced by section that highlights “featured posts,” as we found it increasingly difficult to differentiate regular posts from “notes.” We also hope that the new format will make it easier for readers to access older posts.
To initiate the new format, today’s post is longer and more map-intensive than most. It also deviates from the norm in another important aspect. In general, GeoCurrents avoids making policy recommendations: this post, however, breaks the rule.)
World Fertility Rate Map
As Stanford University, like many others, is advocating interactive approaches to teaching, I have been experimenting with a software system (Top Hat Monocle) that lets me quiz students as I lecture. In so doing, I can assess levels of knowledge and adjust my lectures accordingly. Overall, the experiment has proved useful, revealing that some issues are already understood, whereas others most definitely are not.
India TFR Graph
The one question that stymied almost all of my students concerned India’s birthrate. As their in-class answers revealed, most believed that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) was roughly twice that of the United States, imagining that the average Indian woman could be expected to bear at least four children. Informal queries among colleagues and friends produced similar results. Most well-educated Americans, it would appear, are under the impression that India is still characterized by high fertility.

In actuality, India’s TFR is only 2.5—and falling steadily. This figure barely exceeds that of the United States. In 2011, the US fertility rate was estimated at 2.1, essentially the replacement level; a more recent study now pegs it at 1.93. Still, from a global perspective, India and the US fall in the same general fertility category, as can be seen in the map posted here....MUCH, MUCH MORE
And here is one of the most amazing paragraphs I've ever seen:
India Fertility Map
...It can be deceptive, however, to view India as an undivided whole. As shown on the map posted here, fertility figures for half of India are actually below replacement level. Were it not for the Hindi-speaking heartland, India would already be looking at population stabilization and even decline. All the states of southern India post TFR figures below 1.9. A number of states in the far north and the northeast boast similarly low fertility levels, including West Bengal, noted for its swarming metropolis of Calcutta (Kolkata)....