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Asian and Pacific Population Programme News. 1985 Mar; 14(1):2-5.In 1983, the ESCAP region added 44 million people, bringing its total population to 2600 million, which is 56% of the world population. The annual rate of population growth was 1.7% in 1983 compared to 2.4% in 1970-75. The urban population rose from 23.4% in 1970 to 26.4% in 1983, indicative of the drift from rural areas to large cities. In 1980, 12 of the world's 25 largest cities were in the ESCAP region, and there is concern about the deterioration of living conditions in these metropoles. In general, however, increasing urbanization in the developing countries of the ESCAP region has not been directly linked to increasing industrialization, possibly because of the success of rural development programs. With the exception of a few low fertility countries, a large proportion of the region's population is concentrated in the younger age groups; 50% of the population was under 22 years of age in 1983 and over 1/3 was under 15 years. In 1983, there were 69 dependents for every 100 persons of working age, although declines in the dependency ratio are projected. The region's labor force grew from 1100 million in 1970 to 1600 million in 1983; this growth has exceeded the capacity of country economies to generate adequate employment. The region is characterized by large variations in life expectancy at birth, largely reflecting differences in infant mortality rates. Whereas there are less than 10 infant deaths/1000 live births in Japan, the corresponding rates in Afghanistan and India are 203 and 121, respectively. Maternal-child health care programs are expected to reduce infant mortality in the years ahead. Finally, fertility declines have been noted in almost every country in the ESCAP region and have been most dramatic in East Asia, where 1983's total fertility rate was 40% lower than that in 1970-75. Key factors behind this decline include more aggressive government policies aimed at limiting population growth, developments in the fields of education and primary health care, and greater availability of contraception through family planning programs.