UNFPAState of World Population 2002
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(Not for release before 3 December 2002)

Multiple Dimensions of Poverty
Macroeconomics, Poverty, Population and Development
Poverty and Gender
Poor Health and Poverty
HIV/AIDS and Poverty
Poverty and Education
Population, Poverty and Global Development Goals: The Way Ahead

Macroeconomics, Poverty, Population and Development

Long-term demographic and economic data from 45 developing countries show that high fertility increases poverty by slowing economic growth and by skewing the distribution of consumption against the poor.

Enabling women to have smaller families—by reducing mortality, increasing education and improving access to reproductive health and family planning—counters both of these effects. The national effects on poverty reduction are clear from both average gross domestic product (GDP) increase and consumption figures.

The average poverty incidence in 1980 was 18.9 per cent, about one in every five people. Had all countries reduced net fertility by 5 per thousand during the 1980s, as many Asian countries did, poverty incidence would have been reduced to 12.6 per cent, or one in eight.

Smaller families have fewer expenses and more opportunities to increase their income and savings, leading to increased consumption. Half of the improvement in population-related economic growth has come from taking advantage of the “demographic window”, the other half from shifting economic consumption towards the poor. The impacts can be considerable. A fall of 4 per thousand in the net birth rate, for example, would translate into a 2.4 per cent decline in those living in absolute poverty in the next decade.

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