Delivered by Associate Professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences:
An Overview of Developments in the World and Iranian Population on the Occasion of World Population Day
According to the Office of International and Scientific Cooperation (OISC) of University of Mazandaran, on the occasion of World Population Day, Dr. Yaghoob Forootan, Associate Professor of Demography of the Department of Social Sciences at University of Mazandaran, honorary researcher at the Waikato University Islamic Studies Group in New Zealand and Western Sydney University in Australia, and a Council Member of Irans Population Association gave an overview of developments in the world and Iranian population. The following is the gist of his analysis:
The United Nations designated July 11 as World Population Day. In 1989, United Nations designated July 11 as World Population Day in order to improve the level of attention, awareness, and knowledge of nations and governments throughout the world about the importance of the issue of population in its various dimensions. The reason why July 11 is designated as "World Population Day" is because the world population reached approximately 5 billion on July 11, 1987.
The historical trend of world population shows the important fact that it took thousands of years for the world population for the first time in the history of human history to reach one billion around 1800. A more important fact is that since then the world has witnessed an increasing population growth so that in less than every 15 years, another one billion people have been added to the world population in recent years. This astonishing trend in world population growth is due to a phenomenon known in Demography as the "Demographic Momentum". Indeed, the famous thinker Yves Lacoste described it in a simple and beautiful sentence; it is like a "snowball" that has descended from the top of a peak and its magnitude and power are increasing every moment. In Iran, the total population has increased from about 20 million people in the first census in 1956 to almost 80 million people in the latest census which was carried out in 2016, making Iran the most populous country in the Middle East. Of course, in addition to the population’s size and number, its qualitative dimension, especially its health, well-being, and welfare must be considered much more seriously.
In short, the population of a country can be thought of as two sides of the same coin: one side of the coin is the population focused on the exceptional opportunity and valuable potential that the population of the country provides. This means that when a significant proportion of the country"s total population is made up of young people and people of in economically-active ages, a window opens to the country and it can use this potential of a young and active population to develop and improve society. For example, East Asian countries including Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the 1990s with appropriate planning and policies at the national and international levels were able to benefit from this demographic window of opportunity to boost their production and economic growth. This approach is discussed in detail in the book entitled "Economic Demography" published by University of Mazandaran Press, with a focus on real examples from different countries. It should also be noted that if a society fails to provide the necessary arrangements and appropriate facilities in such key areas as marriage and childbearing, education and training, job opportunities etc., it would face serious and growing challenges such as rising unemployment, disease, divorce, emigration, crime, insecurity, prostitution, violence, and political and social unrest. Fortunately, Iran still has a young age structure that provides an exceptional opportunity and potential for the development and economic growth. Taking advantage of this opportunity, however, depends on the implementation of appropriate planning and policies, led by demographers, economists, sociologists and other experts in various scientific fields who have the necessary knowledge, expertise and experience. The nature of young population with specific reference to its high demand for marriage and employment must be seriously paid attention by decision-makers in national level.
At the end of this short note, I am very eager to give a beautiful quotation from Nicolas Condorcet who lived more than 200 years ago; I leave it to the readers to have their judgement and conclusion.
"In the future, human beings will come to realize that if they have a responsibility for their future, it is not only their duty to give birth to them, but also to give happiness to their future." In this context, we also commit ourselves to make the legacy we pass on to future generations be better than the legacy we inherited from our predecessors. (Source: May, J. F. (1397) World Population Policy, translated by Foroutan, Y. Page 225)