High fertility rate impacts education, health investments

Low income countries like Papua New Guinea have a high fertility rate, which can have a big impact on the education and health investment in children.

Senior fellow at the East West Center in Hawai’i and expert in population, health and economic studies, Andrew Mason, said the majority of the population in these countries is young adults.

PNG’s fertility rate was reported at 3.7 in 2015, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators.

Mason highlighted that about half the population is under the age of 25 and that’s the age in which people start to provide for themselves.

He explained that in low income countries similar to PNG, youths don’t produce enough to look after themselves to an even older age.

“For a lot of low income countries, it takes young adults a long time to really find good jobs and be contributing members to their economies so you have this very large group that is costly.

“A family has to develop resources to support four to six children and that means there’s less for each child.

“If we don’t educate our children, if they’re not healthy, then that affects them when they’re adults and that affects their children and their grandchildren,” Mason said.

He added that the government must focus on establishing reproductive health programs widely available to anybody who wants them. This includes programs devoted to infant child health, maternal mortality and reproduction services.

Fertility rate is the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 population per year.

Quintina Naime