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    047034

    Liberia: population and development.

    Brown E

    In: The 1984 International Conference on Population: the Liberian experience, [compiled by] Liberia. Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. Monrovia, Liberia, Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, [1986]. 232-47.

    This paper summarizes those aspects of the 1984 World Development Report which deal with population prospects and policies in Liberia. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only area of the world where there has not yet been any decline in the rate of growth of the population, and Liberia with a population of 2 million and growing at the rate of 3.5%/year has 1 of the highest growth rates in that area. The birth rate is 50/1000 of the population, and the death rate is 14/1000. The fertility rate is nearly 7 children/woman and is not expected to decline to replacement level before year 2030. Infant mortality is 91/1000, and half of all deaths occur among children under 5. Projecting these demographic trends into the future leads to the conclusion that the population will double in 20 years and exceed 6 million by 2030. Although fertility will begin to decline in the 1990s, the population will continue to increase for a few years with the growth rate declining to 2%/year by 2020 and 1.2%/year by 2045. Such rapid population growth will cause great stress on the country's ability to provide food, schools, and health care. For the children themselves, large, poor families, with births spaced too close together, means malnutrition, poor health , and lower intellectual capacity. And the cycle of poverty continues over the generations as the families save less and expend more on the immediate needs of their children. In macroeconomic terms, a growth rate of l2%/year means a massive explosion of need for food, water, energy, housing, health services and education, with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of only 2%/year; and this projection is probably optimistic. The rural sector will not be able to support the 23% additional rural labor force, which will migrate to the towns, adding to the already high urban growth rate of 5.7%/year from natural increase. In this society, where literacy is only 20% and secondary education completed by only 11% of the girls, it is estimated that only %5 of eligible couples practice birth control despite the fact that it costs less than $1.00 per capita. Government must step in to ensure that resources exist for population planning at county and local levels. Government is responsible for making demographic data accessible and for coordinating population program inputs. Government should also make sure that family planning programs can be implemented through integration with existing health services. A project including restructuring of health care management, financing and delivery, as well as development of a national population policy, has been proposed for World Bank and other international agencies' support.
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