Mexico’s population exploded in the mid-20th century as death rates plummeted and birth rates remained high. From 1940 to 1980, the number of Mexicans more than quadrupled from under 20 million to over 80 million. In the 1960s and 1970s the population growth was among the world’s fastest at 3.3% a year. At this rate, the population doubles in less than 22 years.
Concerns about overpopulation resulted in a massive planning program which included health professionals, multimedia advertising, and messages is telenovelas (serialized TV dramas) and historietas (comic books). As a result of this campaign and the demographic transition (the drop in fertility rates with modernization observed in all countries), the average number of children per woman dropped dramatically from 5.7 in 1976 to about 2.2 in 2010. Mexico’s population should peak at about 120–130 million in about 2045. This is a fairly large spread because accurately predicting future rates of immigration to the USA is very tricky.
Mexico’s natural increase now is about 1.5%, but actual increase (including immigration/emigration) was closer to 1% in 2006, 1.3% in 2008 and will probably be down to 1% again by 2011.
Mexico’s National Population Council (CONAPO) has projected a fertility rate of 2.1 for 2010, but international sources estimate it to be between 2.2 and 2.3 in 2010.
Mexico’s population dynamics are the subject of chapter 9 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico; the importance of telenovelas and historietas is discussed in chapter 18.