Bhutan's fertility rate plummets in over three decades


Buddhist lamas perform a traditional mask dance at the Bhutan Temple in Bodhgaya. Bhutan's fertility rates has declined rapidly in the past three decades, from a high of 6.4 children per woman in 1982 to 1.9 in 2017, as per the newly published report on Harnessing demographic dividend in Bhutan on Tuesday (March 3). - AFP

THIMPHU: Bhutan's fertility rates has declined rapidly in the past three decades, from a high of 6.4 children per woman in 1982 to 1.9 in 2017, as per the newly published report on Harnessing demographic dividend in Bhutan on Tuesday (March 3).

The report, made public to all in the closed-door nation, was published by the National Statistic Bureau (NSB) based on population projection data from population and housing census survey 2017.

As per the report, the total fertility rate in Bhutan has declined from a high of 6.4 children per woman in 1982 to 1.9 in 2017, which is below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman.

The report said Bhutan has undergone classical demographic transitions. The crude birth rate of 39 births per thousand populations in 1984 started declining after 2000 and came down to a level of 15.5 births per thousand populations in 2017.

During the same period, the crude death rate, which was 13.4 deaths per thousand populations, started declining steadily even before the onset of fertility decline, as per the report. As of 2017, the crude death rate stands at 6.7 deaths per thousand populations.

Earlier this year Bhutan's Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said the country was suffering from declining fertility rate due to the population control measures implemented two decades ago.

He said the measures implemented in the 1970s were based on flawed data.

To help improve the birth rate, the government of Lotay Tshering is planning to initiate a mother and child health allowance in a few months.

In the meantime, the report said a time-bound window to take advantage of favourable demographic conditions is quickly closing. The region has approximately 30 years to exploit the growing labor force before the number of elderly persons starts to significantly increase, thus limiting savings, investment and future output potential.

The report recommended investment in the human capital to reap the demographic dividend since the human capital base of the workforce will largely determine the remaining benefits.

The report also recommended strengthening social security, developing regional hubs, improving wellbeing measures in the eastern part of Bhutan and improving women participation rate in the labor force. The country will have to create additional jobs as well, as per the report. - Xinhua/Asian News Network
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