Nigerian population boom a threat

April 15, 2012 at 10:46 AM
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LAGOS, Nigeria, April 15 (UPI) -- At its current growth rate, Nigeria will reach 300 million people in 25 years, about the population of the United States, population experts say.

The boom in population in the sub-Sarahan country about the size of Arizona and New Mexico combined, could put further stresses on Nigeria's economy, healthcare system and educational and employment opportunities, The New York Times reported Sunday. Already the country's unemployment rate is nearly 50 percent and many families squeeze into 7- by 11-foot rooms.

Most of the rapid increase in population in the world is taking place in sub-Saharan Africa -- of the roughly 20 countries where women average more than five children, most are in the region, the newspaper said.

"The pace of growth in Africa is unlike anything else ever in history and a critical problem," said Joel E. Cohen, a professor of population at Rockefeller University in New York City.

"What is effective in the context of these countries may not be what worked in Latin America or Kerala or Bangladesh," he added, concerning population control methods.

The value of having a large family in Nigeria stems from a cultural pressure to show strength and importance, but also out of concern of a high infant mortality rate that has recently been curbed by vaccinations, the Times said.

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