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New Evidence Suggests Africa’s Birth Rates are Falling Fast

At conferences and in cabinet meetings across the continent, politicians and policymakers fret about how to educate, employ, house and feed a population that the UN expects to grow at breakneck speed from around 1.2bn people now, to 3.4bn people by 2100. In southern Europe, populists stoke up fears that hundreds of millions of Africans may try to cross the Mediterranean to escape poverty, war or hunger. Across the rich world, environmentalists fear the impact on the climate and planet of an extra 2bn people. Yet few have noticed a wealth of new data that suggest that Africa’s birth rate is falling far more quickly than expected. The UN’s population projections are widely seen as the most authoritative. Its latest report, published last year, contained considerably lower estimates for sub-Saharan Africa than those of a decade ago.