The birth rate is the number of live births per 1,000 people in a population over a specific period of time (typically a year). It is closely intertwined with total fertility rate, which tracks the average number of children that women in a given country give birth to during their childbearing years. The birth rate varies drastically by country. The average global birth rate was 18.5 births per 1,000 people in 2019, lower than in 2007 and 2012.
Birth rate and replacement rate
Both birth rate and fertility rate are helpful in analyzing a country's replacement rate, which compares the rate of births and deaths in a country to determine whether the population is growing or shrinking overall. This metric is important because populations that increase or decrease too rapidly can put a strain on a country's systems, including its economy, infrastructure, social programs.
The global decrease in birth rate has caused some countries to worry that their current birth rate is not enough to replace the older generation, which would lead to a population decline. Problems associated with population decline include a slowed economy, which can lead to the closing of businesses from restaurants to public transportation to schools to medical facilities. To help counteract these concerns, some governments offer financial incentives to encourage citizens to have children. Low birth rates are attributed to the high costs of raising a child, people choosing to further their careers over starting a family, and older average ages for first-time mothers.
On the other hand, some countries face overpopulation and the problems associated with it, such as overcrowding, poverty, an overwhelmed health care sector, low life expectancy, and low education levels. In these circumstances, a country's government might offer incentives for people to have only one child.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Birth Rate (per 1000 people, CIA World Factbook 2021 estimate)
- Niger - 47.28
- Angola - 42.22
- Mali - 41.60 (tie)
- Uganda - 41.60 (tie)
- Benin - 41.55
- Chad - 41.05
- Congo (Dem Rep of) - 40.53
- South Sudan - 38.26
- Somalia - 38.25
- Mozambique - 38.03
Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Birth Rate (per 1000 people, CIA World Factbook 2021 estimate)
- Monaco - 6.63
- South Korea - 6.89
- Andorra - 6.91
- Japan - 7.00
- Taiwan (limited recognition) - 7.43
- Greece - 7.72
- Puerto Rico - 7.90
- Portugal - 8.02
- Spain - 8.05
- Bulgaria - 8.15
Birth rate highs and lows
According to the CIA World Factbook, Nigeria has the highest birth rate in the world at 47.28 average annual births per 1,000 people per year. The birth rate in Angola decreased significantly since 2000, when it was 46.89. It is notable that datas from other sources, such as the United Nations or World Bank, rank countries in a slightly different order (see below), but central Africa is the fastest-growing region globally and Nigeria the fastest-growing population in every case.
On the other side of the scale, the CIA estimates Monaco has the lowest birth rate in the world at 6.63 average annual births per 1,000 people per year. In comparison, the United Nations awards that rank to the U.S. territory Puerto Rico (6.55) and South Korea (6.77) and World Bank identifies Puerto Rico (6.4) and San Marino (6.7) as the lowest birth rates in the world. The United States sits at the lower end of the spectrum in all three rankings, with averages ranging from 11.4 to 12.33.