By Faranak Bakhtiari

Iran's population on upward trend till 2040, UN predicts

August 6, 2021 - 18:8

TEHRAN – Iran's population will be on an upward trend until 2040, then it begins to experience a downward trend based on three scenarios by the UN World Population Prospects report revised in 2017.

The results on fertility growth show that in all three scenarios (low, medium, and high) until 2040, Iran's fertility rate will not increase to the level of replacement and the population growth rate of Iran will decrease based on all three scenarios.

The lowest scenario predicts that in 2030, the population growth rate of Iran reaches zero and the medium scenario suggests that in 2050, the rate becomes negative.

Also, the changes in the population show that if the current trend of fertility decline continues, according to the low scenario, the population of Iran will reach about 82 million by 2050, and about 77.6 million people in 2060, and by 2100 it will be reduced to about 42 million people. 

Also, if the medium scenario is realized, the population of the country will decrease to about 93 million by 2050, then to about 72 million by 2100.

Population growth becomes negative within 20 years

Mohammad Javad Mahmoudi, chairman of the population policies committee of the Secretariat of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution said that given that the fertility rate is now below the replacement limit, it is predicted that from 2036-2041, the population growth rate will reach zero and then becomes negative.

From 2001 to 2005, there has been an increase in births in the country, but after that, the number of births has started to decrease with an almost steep slope, so that in 2020 the number of births in the country (1.114 million) compared to 2005 (1.570 million) has been associated with a decline of over 29 percent (reduction of more than 450 thousand births), a trend that has been unprecedented in recent decades, he explained.

He went on to lament that the birth rate from about 20 per thousand population in 2005 dropped to 13.3 per thousand population in 2020, which is the lowest level in the past 50 years.

Mahmoudi believes that due to the decrease in the number of births over the first three months of this year (March 21- June 21), the population growth rate is expected to decline.

Natural population growth rate less than 1%

Referring to the difference between natural population growth rate and population growth rate, he explained that in the population growth rate, the migration rate is also calculated, but in the natural population growth rate, the birth rate and the mortality rate are estimated. 

In 2019, the natural population growth rate was about 0.95 percent, but in 2020, the rate has reached 0.73 percent, he noted.

"The population of Iran stood at 84 million people in 2020; however, according to the census results, the growth rate has dropped to 1.24 percent in 2006 from 3.2 percent in 1986.

It is predicted that in the coming years we will face a further decline in population growth; The disadvantage of this is that whenever the rate of population growth decreases, the elderly population increases, and the working population decreases," he said.

Fertility rate decline

In 1986, the fertility rate was estimated at 6.5 children per woman, but in 2001, the figure decreased to 1.75 children and to 2.01 children in 2005, Mahmoudi stated.

According to the trend of previous years, it is estimated that the fertility rate in 2020 is 1.65 children per woman, he added.

The fertility rate in Iran has been declining over the past eight years, the lowest of which was related to the past [Iranian calendar] year (March 2019-March 2020) with a birth rate of 1.2, according to the data published by the Statistics Center.

Nicholas Eberstadt, the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) wrote in an article in July 2020 that the fertility rate in Iran has dropped by 70 percent over the past 30 years, which has been the highest decline in human history.

Melinda Gates, an American philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also wrote on her Twitter account that “The fastest decrease in the rate of childbearing per woman in the history of the world has happened in Iran!”

Population growth policies

Some 14 policies to support childbearing and the family were announced by the Leader in [the Iranian calendar year] 1389 (March 2014-March 2015) when he stressed that social, cultural, and economic development should be done in accordance with these general policies to support families.

The policies address the need to increase the population and the various dimensions of it, including childbearing, facilitating marriage and strengthening the family, reproductive health, promoting the Iranian-Islamic lifestyle, empowering young people, honoring the elderly, and the environment, which can lead to an increase in the quantity and quality of the population if it is timely and continuous implemented.

The Majlis (Iranian Parliament) approved on March 16 to implement a population growth and family support plan for 7 years to change the declining trend of childbearing.

The plan stipulates health insurance for infertile couples, providing services and facilities to working women, providing health and nutrition support packages to mothers and children, educational opportunities for student mothers, providing livelihood support to families, and ongoing medical services to pregnant women.

According to the law, all higher education institutions in the country are obliged to raise awareness about the positive aspects of childbearing, take the necessary measures such as producing content and learning packages, as well as holding festivals, workshops, temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Culture, and other relevant institutions are obliged to allocate 30 percent of their budgets to those NGOs that work to reduce the age of marriage, facilitate youth marriage, encourage childbearing and strengthen families.

Employees with three to five children will be promoted. Maternity leave will be extended to 9 months by paying all salaries and related extras.

The government is obliged to establish a life insurance and investment fund for unemployed housewives with 3 or more children living in rural and nomadic areas by paying 70 percent of the life and investment insurance premiums.

The Ministry of Health is obliged to provide quality natural childbirth in state-run hospitals in a way that is completely free for people covered by insurance and people without insurance coverage.

Municipal public transportation services and cultural, sports, and recreational tariffs will be halved.

Tuition for children in private schools and educational centers will include a 20 percent discount.

All production, distribution, and service units are obliged to include phrases with the content of childbearing support on products and goods.

Evaluating the plan, Mahmoudi concludes that given the financial and incentives proposed in this plan, it is expected that if approved by the Guardian Council, we will have a minimal tool to encourage and help the people in order to prevent population decline.

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