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Demography India. 1984 Jan-Dec; 13(1-2):153-67.The threshold hypothesis shares with transition theory the basic assumption that a decline in fertility is interrelated with a decline in mortality and change in the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the population. However, threshold theory fails to formulate a causal chain between fertility and the other variables and its application at the aggregate country level is limited by intracountry heterogeneity in cultural and social variables. Problematic is the fixing of the timing for a country of a decline in fertility to be inferred from the fact that some indicators of development have reached the threshold zone while others have not. This paper attempts to develope a combined index for socioeconomic development on the basis of data from 12 countries of the ESCAP region of South East Asia. Variables included were life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rate, adult female literacy, percentages of females economically active, GNP per capita, and percentage urban population. In 1970, 3 of the countries analyzed had a crude birth rate below 25, 6 countries had a rate between 25-40, and 3 had a rate above 40. The lowest value of the index recorded for countries of low fertility (crude birth rate below 25) and the highest value recorded for countries of high fertility (above 40) are taken as the threshold zones for the overall index. The number of countries in the threshold range increased from 5 in 1970 to 8 in 1975. With the increase in the index value, a reduction in the fertility level was noted. In contrast, where socioeconomic development was slow, fertility showed little change. Policy makers could use this system to assess which indicator could be pushed through to raise the overall index of development so as to effect a decline in fertility.
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.