Laxenburg, Austria 28 July 2011 -- Future trends in global population growth could be significantly affected by improvements in both the quality and quantity of education, particularly female education. Projections of future population trends that do not explicitly include education in their analysis may be flawed, according to research published today in the journal Science (July 29 2011).
The study uses a novel "multi-state" population modeling approach to incorporate education attainment level, along with age and sex. The integration of education in the analyses adds a "human quality" dimension to projections of fertility, mortality and migration. As education also affects health, economic growth, and democracy, these projections provide a more comprehensive picture of where, how, and under what conditions human well-being is increasing.
The research reinforces earlier findings that the level of formal education achieved by women is, in most cases, the single most important determinant of population growth. More educated women generally have fewer children, better general health, and higher infant survival rates. Education also appears to be a more important determinant of child survival than household income and wealth. The study also found that if concerted efforts were made to fast track education, the global population could remain below 9 billion by 2050. Thus the global population outlook depends greatly on further progress in education.
Researchers Wolfgang Lutz and Samir K.C. from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AW) and the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), evaluated the effect of education on population growth to 2050 using four alternative education scenarios*. The scenarios are based on identical sets of education-specific fertility, mortality, and migration rates. They differ onl
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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis