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International Family Planning Perspectives. 1991 Sep; 17(3):108-13.South Asia consisting of Bangladesh, India, Nepal Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, claims 1/5 to total world population with expected population growth of at least 200 million by the year 2000. Taking issue with assumptions behind World Bank (WB) and United Nations (UN) population projections for the region, the authors make less optimistic assumptions of country fertility and mortality trends when running population projections for the region. Following discussion of methodological issues for and analysis of population projections, the paper's alternate assumptions and projection results are presented and discussed. Projections were made for each country of the region over the period 1985-2010, based on assumptions that only very modest fertility declines and improvements in life expectancy would develop over most of the 1990s. South Asian population would therefore grow from over 1 billion in 1985, to 1.4 billion by 2000, and almost 1.8 billion by 2010. Overall slower fertility decline than assumed for the UN and WB projections point to larger population growth with momentum for continued, larger growth through the 21st century. Rapid, substantial population growth as envisioned by these projections will impede movement toward an urban-industrial economy, with a burgeoning labor force exceeding the absorptive capacity of the modern sector. Job seekers will pile up in agriculture and the informal sector. Demands upon the government to deliver education and health services will also be extraordinarily high. High-tech niches will, however, continue expanding in India and Pakistan with overall negative social effects. Their low demand for labor will exacerbate income disparities, fuel interpersonal, interclass, and interregional tensions, and only contribute to eventual ethnic, communal, and political conflict. Immediate, coordinated policy is urged to achieve balanced low mortality and low fertility over the next few decades.
In: Third Asian and Pacific Population Conference (Colombo, September 1982). Selected papers. Bangkok, Thailand, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1984. 9-40. (Asian Population Studies Series No. 58)This report summarizes the recent demographic situation and considers prospective trends and their development implications among the 39 members and associate members of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). It presents data on the following: size, growth, and distribution of the population; age and sex structure; fertility and marriage; mortality; international migration; growth and poverty; food and nutrition; households and housing; primary health care; education; the working-age population; family planning; the elderly; and population distribution. Despite improvements in the frequency and quality of demographic data collected in recent years, big gaps continue to exist in knowledge of the demographic situation in the ESCAP region. Available evidence suggests that the population growth rate of the ESCAP region declined between 1970 and 1980, as compared with the preceding decade, but that its rate of decline was slow. Within this overall picture, there is wide variation, with the most developed countries having annual growth rates around 1% and some of the least developed countries having a figure near 3%. The main factors associated with the high growth rates are the past high levels of fertility resulting in young age structures and continuing high fertility in some countries, notably in middle south Asia. The population of countries in the ESCAP region is expected to grow from 2.5 billion in 1980, to 2.9 billion in 1990, and to 3.4 billion persons by the year 2000. This massive growth in numbers, which will be most pronounced in Middle South Asia, will occur despite projected continuing moderation in annual population growth rates. Fertility is expected to continue its downward trend, assuming a more widespread and equitable distribution of health, education, and family planning services. Mortality is expected to decline further from its current levels, where life expectancy is often at or around 50 years. In several countries, more than 10 in every 100 babies born die before their 1st birthday. The extension of primary health care services is seen as the key to reducing this figure. Rapid population growth and poverty tend to reinforce each other. Low income, lack of education, and high infant and child mortality contribute to high fertility, which in turn is associated with high rates of natural increase. High rates of natural increase feed back to depress socioeconomic development. High population growth rates and their correlates of young age structures and heavy concentrations of persons in the nonproductive ages tend to depress production and burden government expenditure with high costs for social overhead needs. Rapid population growth emerges as an important factor in the persistence of chronic undernutrition and malnutrition. It increases the magnitude of the task of improving the educational system and exacerbates the problem of substandard housing that is widely prevalent throughout Asia.