May 052011

The 2010 census indicates that since 1960 Mexico’s population has more than tripled to 112.3 million. However, the growth rate between 2000 and 2010 (1.4% per year) is less than half the 3.4% rate of increase experienced in the 1960s. If Mexico’s population had continued to grow at 3.4% since 1960, it would have been over 186 million by now!

Population growth has slowed because the fertility rate has declined dramatically. The total number of children born per women dropped from about 8 in 1960 to 2.9 in 1999 and 2.4 in 2009. It is expected to reach the replacement level of 2.1 by 2010. The fertility rate dropped in the last ten years for women in all age groups. It dropped an impressive 54% for women aged 45 to 49 and 28% for women aged 40 to 45. However, women in these age groups have relatively few babies. Fertility in the prime childbearing age groups; 20 to 24, 25 to 29 and 30 to 35; decreased by 15%, 18% and 15% respectively. The smallest drop was 12% for females ages 15 to 19, suggesting that the incidence of teen pregnancies may remain an issue.

Increased female education is closely linked with fertility reduction. The 2010 census indicates that women with university education had an average of 1.1 children, whereas those who completed secondary school had 1.6 children. Those completing only primary school had 3.3 children, while women with no formal  education had 3.5 children. Because these women may have additional children in the future, these numbers are not directly comparable to the total fertility rates referred to earlier.

With female education levels rising and total fertility rates declining, worries about “overpopulation” in Mexico do not seem warranted at this time. As we have stressed elsewhere, the really significant characteristic of Mexico’s population is no longer how rapidly total numbers are growing, but how rapidly the average age is rising as the population ages. An earlier post here includes a link to a pdf file showing Mexico’s predicted population pyramid for 2050, which shows just how fast Mexico’s population will age if present trends continue. The changing age distribution will require substantial shifts in public services over the next 20-30 years.

Related posts include:

Several chapters of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico discuss additional insights into Mexico’s population dynamics and trends, and their implications for future development. Buy your copy today!

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