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Between 1960 and 2012, the world average fertility rate halved to 2.5 births per woman

Emi Suzuki's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español

There were more than 7 billion people on earth in 2013. While this is the highest number ever, the population growth rate has been steadily declining, in part due to declining fertility rates.  Tomorrow, Friday, July 11, is World Population Day, and in this spirit, I'd like to talk about a key component of population growth: fertility rates.
 

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Lives on the line: reducing under-five child mortality rates in Africa

Dereje Ketema Wolde's picture
As countries all across Africa recognize International Day of the African Child today, I thought it would be a timely opportunity to blog about the progress of under-five child mortality rates over the past two decades.  But first, some data for us to understand the big picture:
  • On a global level, the rate of under-five child mortality has been cut in half, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 per 1,000 in 2012.  The estimated annual number of under-five deaths has fallen from 12.6 million to 6.6 million over the same period.
  • Since 1990, 216 million children worldwide have died before their fifth birthday — more than the current total population of Brazil, the world's fifth most populous country.
  • Disparities between children in the high-income and low-income countries have narrowed, but many gaps still remain.  Case in point: In Luxembourg, the under-five mortality rate is just 2 deaths per 1,000 live births; in Sierra Leone, it is 182 deaths per 1,000 births.

As we stand a year away from the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 – which aims to reduce the global under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 – the pace of reduction would have needed to quadruple in 2013-2015 to achieve this goal, according to the United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF's) Committed to Child Survival: A Promised Renewed – Progress Report 2013.

A closer look at regional rates
Now let's take a look at the regional and country level data by viewing the World Development Indicators (WDI) 2014 and the indicator under-five mortality rate. The WDI also features a short progress report on MDG 4, which complements the detailed analysis of the World Bank Group's Global Monitoring Report.  This report uses the same methodology to assess whether countries are on track or off track to meet the 2015 targets.

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where one in ten children die before the age of five, faces the biggest challenges in achieving MDG 4, followed by South Asia.  The SSA region reduced its child mortality rate by 45% during 1990 to 2012, the only region to reduce its under-five mortality rate by less than half during this time.  SSA also lags behind other regions in its pace of decline in the total number of under-five deaths.

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Data, Differences, and Digging Deeper

Neil Fantom's picture

Explaining the differences in today’s global society is a topic that clearly captures the interest of many: as I write this blog, the hardback version of Thomas Piketty’s new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is second on Amazon’s best-seller list. That’s not bad for a pretty hefty book about economics and the distribution of wealth!

Another publication – the 2014 edition of World Development Indicators (WDI) 2014 – was also released in the last few weeks: it’s not likely to reach the bestseller list on Amazon, but it does also reveal some startling differences in the lives of people around the world, and the challenges they face. Here’s one statistic: a newborn child born in Sierra Leone will be 90 times more likely to die before her fifth birthday than a newborn child born in Luxembourg. And the estimated probabilities of dying before five? In Sierra Leone, in 2012, it was 18%, or just under 1 in 5 – the highest in the world. In Luxembourg, that probability was just 0.2%, or about 1 in 500 – the lowest in the world. Since it really is quite shocking, maybe I should repeat it: almost 1 in 5 children born in Sierra Leone will die before they reach the age of five.

289,000 women died in 2013 due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth

Emi Suzuki's picture

Every day, 800 women die from pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Over 99% of these 289,000 annual deaths occur in developing countries, and most are avoidable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. About 62% of the deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa with another 24% in South Asia – these two regions together account for 85% of maternal mortality in the world.

Absolute number of maternal deaths by region (2013)

New Data Shows Meaningful Progress in Reducing Maternal Mortality

Emi Suzuki's picture

In the developing world, one way to reduce maternal mortality is to train professional midwives for both health facility and home deliveries. But what does the bigger picture of maternal mortality look like today?

The global maternal mortality ratio has fallen by 45% between 1990 and 2013, according to new estimates released today. This means that the world went from 380 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. While this decline represents substantial progress, the actual rate of decline is insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) – a three-quarter reduction in 1990 levels by 2015. To truly reach the target, an annual average reduction of 5.5% would be needed between 1990 and 2015.

 

Global maternal mortality ratio, 1990 and 2013

Global child mortality rates have halved since 1990 - but that’s not enough to meet the MDG target

Emi Suzuki's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français | العربية

New estimates of child mortality were released today by the UN Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), and show the global child (under-five) mortality rate has dropped 47 percent since 1990 - from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 48 in 2012. This decline represents substantial progress, but the rate of decline remains insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) of a two-thirds reduction in 1990 levels by 2015.

But a closer look at the data show that just looking at the average trend hides the accelerated decline in rates in recent years. The average decline in rates was just 1.2 percent per year between 1990 and 1995, but between 2005 and 2012 there has been average annual reduction in child mortality rates of 3.9 percent. This recent progress is close to the average rate needed to be “on track” to meet MDG 4, since under-five mortality rates needs to be going down by at least 4 percent annually. 

The highest child mortality rates are in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa

<1000 days to the MDGs: Data Dashboards to Monitor the last Stretch

Johan Mistiaen's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | العربية

Data on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) indicator trends for developing countries and for different groups of countries are curated in the World Development Indicator (WDI) database.  Each year we use these data in the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) to track progress on the MDGs.  Many colleagues, as well as non-Bank staff, approach us on a weekly basis with questions regarding where their region, or country, or sector stands in regard to achieving the core MDGs.  Oftentimes in the same breath, they will also ask us whether or when we expect that a particular country or region will meet a certain MDG.  

With less than 1,000 days remaining to the MDG deadline, work on the Post-2015 agenda is in full swing. In response to the growing demand for additional info about GMR analytics and the underlying data, we developed a suite of open and interactive data diagnostics dashboards available at: http://data.worldbank.org/mdgs.  Below is an extract which summarizes the progress status towards meeting various MDGs among countries in various regions, income and other groups.  Select different indicators and highlight categories of progress status to interact with the visualization.