It has been pointed out in an earlier section that the level of fertility in developing countries is very much higher than that in developed countries.
During the period 1950-55, the average crude birth rates in many developing countries were quite high (around 42 per thousand populations).
There was some decline in the crude birth rates during 1975-1980. It has been estimated that the birth rates in the majority of African countries declined only modestly during the period 1950-55 to 1980-85 and that this was true of the countries of South Asia and Latin America.
An impressive decline in the crude birth rate took place in East Asia, mainly due to the fertility decline in China.
Though the general picture in developing countries up to 1975 was that of very modest fertility declines, some experienced a considerable fall in their crude birth rates.
Indications of such declines have started becoming evident in the People’s Republic of China, India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, West Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Mauritius and Puerto Rico.
Changes in the crude birth rates of some selected countries are presented. It may be seen that during 1950-82 the birth rates in Singapore declined by about 60 per cent; Hong Kong and Mauritius experienced declines of about 50 per cent; while in Puerto Rico and Chile, the declines were above 40 per cent.
All these countries are, however, either comparatively small islands or peninsular countries with small populations. The study of fertility would be more meaningful if fertility trends of such population giants as the Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria and Mexico were studied. Unfortunately, information about these countries is scanty and not always reliable.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to rely on various estimates. While the estimated birth rate in India during 1951-1961 was around 45 per thousand populations, it had gone down to about 41 during 1961-1971 4 , registering a decline of about four to five points.
The most recent available estimate indicates that the Indian birth rate in 1974 was 34.5 and in 1988 it was 32.2 per thousand populations.China’s birth rate was about 35 in. 1965 and about 25 or even lower in 1975. China’s birth rate was 18.5 per thousand in 1983.
It appears therefore that there has been an appreciable decline in China’s birth rate. (It is, of course, known that China has a very vigorous family planning programme and that the Government provides contraceptive services, including sterilisation, as well as induced abortion on request.
It, however, needs to be noted that in recent years the crude birth rate of China has a slightly increased to 20.5 if 1987). Evidence is also available about fertility decline in Indonesia, where the birth rate per thousand populations was 45.0 in 1950 but 37.7 in 1983 a decline of about 16 per cent.
Most of the change in Indonesian fertility, however, occurred only recently. Declines in the birth rate were also noted in Brazil, which till recently had a pronatalist policy.
The crude birth rate in that country, which was 41.4 per thousand populations in 1950, declined to 30.6 per thousand populations in 1983, a decline of 26.1 per cent. It has been predicted that the birth rate in Brazil would decline much mote rapidly in the decades to come. No decline in the birth rate was observed for Nigeria.
The crude birth rat which was 49 in 1950 remained unchanged even in 1975 and to 50.4 in 1983. However it declined to 45.4 during 1987 (a decline of 7.5 per cent from rate observed in 1950).
In Bangladesh a decline of about 30 per cent was observed during 1950-94. (The concern of the Government of Bangladesh about its rapidly-growth population has been demonstrated by the fact that it has given to priority to the population control programme.)
Pakistan, on other hand, registered a decline of about 14 per cent in her birth low rate from 1950 to 1994. The birth rates for the eight largest countries in the world for 1951 towards 1974, 1983 and 1987 are presented in Table 9.5.
It is evident from that a large number of developing countries experienced substantial fertility declines recent years and that these fertility reductions are becoming the rule rather than an exception. It is expected that, in the future, declines in fertility, in developing countries would be more rapid.