by Bunmi Ibigbami

Lagos records lowest birth rate, Katsina is highest[1]

Policy Issues: Economic growth and Human Development

The 2018 Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (conducted by the National Population Commission in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health) revealed that Lagos State has the lowest number of births at 3.4 births per woman, while Katsina has the highest birth rate at 7.3 births per woman. The second lowest birth rate is Akwa Ibom which is 3.6 births per woman, other states like Adamawa, Borno and Yobe also have high birth rates at 6.1, 5.2 and 5.9 respectively. It was also reported that ‘fertility varies by residence and state as women in rural areas have an average of 5.9 children compared to 4.5 children among urban women. Fertility also varies by education and household wealth’.

Is High birth rate a Catalyst for Economic Recession?

Nigeria’s population has been increasing rapidly due to very high birth rates over the last 5 decades.[2] According to the 2018 Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey, the total birth rate in Nigeria is 5.3 children per woman. A 2017 crude birth rate report[3] also reveals that Nigeria was one of the countries with the highest birth rate in the world. See in fig. 1[4] below:

The Federal Government has been working on curbing this rapid growth in population. The ministry of health has offered free contraception over the past 10 years and sensitizing people on the negative effect of having large families. This is because the government believes smaller families have the potential of securing the future economy of the country.[5] The current birth rate for Nigeria in 2019 is 37.684 births per 1000 people, a 1.09% decline from 2018.[6]

As we have seen, Lagos State has been described as Nigeria’s commercial capital. Lagos state remains the economic hub of Nigeria with GDP in 2014 fixed at $90 billion, Lagos’ economy stands as the 7th largest in Africa, ‘bigger than Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya’.[7][8] The survey shows that Lagos State has the lowest number of births in the country, is low birth rate one of the Lagos economy boosters?

According to Thomas Malthus’s economic model[9], rapid population growth would dampen living standards in the long run i.e. ‘economic growth is connected with a certain level of income per capita’.[10] According to him, ‘given that there is a fixed quantity of land, population growth will eventually reduce the amount of resources that each individual can consume, ultimately resulting in disease, starvation, and war’.[11] The only way to avoid such negative outcomes was ‘moral restraint’ (i.e. refraining from having too many children). See fig 2[12] below:

Kuznets[13] opposed the above view and claimed that there is a positive correlation between growth rates of population and income per capita within broad country groupings, which he interpreted as evidence of absence of a negative causal effect of population growth on income growth. ‘When fertility rates decline over a sustained period of time the proportion of the working age population grows relative to the economically dependent youth population’.[14] For example, in Japan, the low birth rate and the ageing population is posing challenges for the country’s economy as there is labour force shortage. ‘As the Japanese economy is on a moderate upward trend, the workforce is dwindling due to the declining population’.[15] However, Japan appears to have been managing the situation by employing the use of technology to complement the shortage of man power.[16] But can Nigeria manage the unintended negative outcome of birth reduction?

Consequently, reduction in fertility rates, can also be viewed as a consequence, rather than a cause, of other underlying changes that produce development, this is because a reduction in birth rates would not, by itself, contribute significantly to economic growth.[17] Therefore, while the country controls its birth rate, technological advancement should also be at its peak; in order to avoid undesired output (low manpower) which could lead to another phase of economic recession in Nigeria.

 

[1]Lagos records lowest birth rate, Katsina is highest by Eniola Akinkuotu on the 7th of November 2019 in the Punch Newspaper. Available at: https://punchng.com/lagos-records-lowest-birth-rate-katsina-is-highest-2/. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[2]Demographics of Nigeria on Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Nigeria#cite_note-worldpopulationreview.com-7. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[3]The crude birth rate in a year or other period is the total number of live births per 1,000 populations (divided by the length of the period in years). “World Birth rate – Demographics”. Indexmundi.com. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_rate#cite_note-1. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[4]Countries by Birth Rate in 2017.svg in Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_rate#/media/File:Countries_by_Birth_Rate_in_2017.svg. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[5]“Nigeria Population 2018”, World Population Review, 6 June 2018. Available at: http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/nigeria-population/. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[6]Nigeria Birth Rate 1950-2019 on Macro trend website. Available at: https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/NGA/nigeria/birth-rate. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[7]The two of the African continent’s most promising economies.

[8]Lagos is Africa’s 7th largest economy and is about to get bigger with its first oil finds by Yomi Kazeem on the 5th of May 2015 at Lasgidi Blog. Available at: https://qz.com/africa/676819/lagos-is-africas-7th-largest-economy-and-is-about-to-get-bigger-with-its-first-oil-finds/. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[9]Malthusian Theory of Population Growth: Definition & Overview at Study.com. Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/malthusian-theory-of-population-growth-definition-lesson-quiz.html. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[10]See Yujie Li (2015). The Relationship between Fertility Rate and Economic Growth in Developing Countries. Master thesis. Available at: http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=8727479&fileOId=8768892. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[11]Op.cit. Malthusian Theory of Population Growth: Definition & Overview at Study.com

[12]Ibid.

[13]See David N. Wei (2013). The Effect of Fertility Reduction on Economic Growth. Available at: https://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/AshrafWeilWilde_Fertility.pdf. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[14]Part 1: Is population growth good or bad for economic development? by Sea Fox & Tim Dyson. International Growth Centre Blog. Available at: https://www.theigc.org/blog/is-population-growth-good-or-bad-for-economic-development/. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[15] Japan’s low birth rate posing challenges for its economy on July 10, 2019 in the SABC Digital news. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=najZNEKQZxU. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[16]Ibid. Japan’s low birth rate posing challenges for its economy on July 10, 2019 in the SABC Digital news. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=najZNEKQZxU. Date accessed: 07/11/2019.

[17]Op.Cit. Part 1: Is population growth good or bad for economic development? by Sea Fox & Tim Dyson. International Growth Centre Blog.