The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

September 2017, No. 85



67% Live Under Poverty Line

Statistics say the share of Iran’s young population is expected to reach from the present 25 percent to 14 percent of the total population in 2050 or 33 years from now. This would mean a crisis in human and labor force.

Head of Iran Statistics Center has warned that if the fertility rate continues the same trend, the population growth would reach zero in 20 years. Drop in population growth rate and decrease in family size is alarming for the future of the country in terms of economic growth and development. This is particularly so for a country (Iran) which wants to become the most powerful country in the region in terms of economy and science with an annual growth rate of 8 percent and be an inspiring source for the Muslim World under its Vision 2025 Plan.

After fertility rate began to drop dramatically as of the 1990s in Iran and after those born in this period joined the young age category, the country has entered the stage of youth overpopulation. According to 1390 (2011/12) census, out of a population of 75.1 million, 24.1 million or 32 percent were young. The young population in 1385 (2006/07) was 25 million who constituted more than 35 percent of the 70.05 million population, while in 1375 (1996/97) some 17 million (or 28 percent) out of 60 million population were at young age.

The period between 1385 (2006/07) and 1390 (2011/12) is a time that the country was faced with youth overpopulation. In those years one out of three people was young. But according to projections, the number of youth in Iran will drop in the coming years. In other words, the country will overcome youth overpopulation and enter the stage of middle age.

According to forecasts, the total young population will drop to 20 million or 24 percent of the total population in 1400 (2021/22). The young population will further drop in 1405 (2026/27) to reach 19 percent of the total population. This trend of population growth over the past years made the officials concerned about an emerging crisis.

On this basis, the policy of birth control was placed on the agenda. The face of the city which had been filled with banners and panels of “few children, better life” until then suddenly changed color. The then president even promised a ten million rial gift for every child to families who gave birth to more than three children. The punitive policies including refusal to issue birth certificates to more than three children in every family and depriving them of other benefits turned into rewarding policies.

Experts kept sounding the alarm and this ongoing concern made the authorities to seek some solutions. It was suggested to lift the punishment on the fourth child and instead set up day nurseries close to the offices of working mothers. It was also decided to set up some centers to handle women’s affairs. Child delivery leave of absence increased to 9 from 6 months. The cost of delivery was cut under the Health Scheme and even men were given “delivery” leaves to help their wives and babies. The parliament proposed provision of sports facilities for women to maintain their body fitness. The Supreme Cultural Revolution Council was assigned to pursue ways to support families in compliance with the National Cultural Document.

Like many other concerns, the promised policies, schemes and plans were shelved. Except for the delivery leave of absence and the cost of delivery there was no budget allocation to all other suggestions.

It had been planned to raise the population growth rate from 4 to 6.4 percent by 1390 (2011/12). Weak publicity was abandoned and the scheduled plans remained unimplemented. The growth rate which stood at 4 percent in 1371 (1992/93) reached 2.1 eight years later. The figure even went further down in later years.  

The plans were inefficient and moreover things were in a condition that the distance from the birth control program widened more and more every day. The number of single women increased and men were not eager to get married to form a family like before. This meant lack of commitment towards the responsibilities of life and an increase in the number of single women.

In the meantime, women have become more eager to continue their education and delay married life for the sake of their own progress. Women are no more interested in spending their entire life raising children one after the other. Interest in leisure time, participation in social, cultural and recreational activities and enjoying a fit body under the influence of Western media publicity have all been effective in the declining trend of population growth.

Putting aside all the above mentioned points, poverty leaves the strongest impact on this downward trend. Unfavorable level of family welfare more than any other factor drives families away from having children. A brief glance at the welfare level of families will show us the falling trend of population growth rate particularly from 1388 (2009/10) and 1389 (2010/11) onwards. Periodic statistics released by the Central Bank of Iran show that 67 percent of the people in Iran live under the poverty line. The poverty line has been set at a monthly income of 22,300,000 rials for a family of 3.5 persons.

Statistics also say that at least 17.8 percent of Iranian families live under absolute poverty line. These families with a population of 13,347,000 have a monthly income of less than 11,000,000 rials.

Newly formed families too want perfect education and ideal status for their children in order to promote their cultural level and for the same reason would refrain from having more than one or two children. This line of thinking never existed among the families in the past.

The population of Iran reached 50 million in 1365 (1986/87) from 19 million in 1335 (1956/57). This is attributed to improved health and a drop in mortality rate particularly among babies and kids. The population growth rate which was on a climbing trend after the war (with Iraq that ended in 1988) began to gradually fall in the 2000s so that it has reached 1.2 percent in the current calendar year from 6.4 percent in 1367 (1988/89).

Source: Etemad Newspaper


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  September 2017
No. 85