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1/2 Haiti <20 yrs, births +30%> compared with neighboring Dom. Rep.

I admit I didn't read the whole article at Rippa's The Intersection of Madness and Reality blog about a white guy in the United States saying that Haiti's poverty is Haiti's own fault, and explaining why he wouldn't give money to the Haitian relief effort. Most of his comments were gratuitously critical and unreasonable, for example criticizing Haiti for building Port au Prince above an earthquake fault.

Condemning Haitians for building their biggest city on a earthquake fault is like condemning California for continuing to build LA and San Francisco  on a known and huge earthquake fault, and also continuing to increase the population there when they know that the fresh water is running out. People don't generally check with earthquake geologists and regional hydrologists before they begin to build.

On the other hand, a little research confirms one criticism.  I've  read that 47% the population of Haiti is under 18. The CIA Factbook tends to support the statistic. According to the CIA Factbook, the Haitian birth rate is more than three times the death rate (see below). The median age is 20.2 years, with half of the population at an age below 20.2 years. That's a recipe for poverty and disaster.

The birth rate in Haiti is 29.1 births per 1000 population while the birth rate in the Dominican Republic, (a Catholic country which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti) is "only" 22.39 births per 1,000.  How do we explain that the difference in birth rates in Haiti is approximately 30% higher in Haiti than in the Dominican Republic?  What, if anything, can and should Haiti do about it, if anything?

I think the idiot who criticized Haiti for building over an earthquake fault nonetheless found one legitimate criticism that ought to be taken seriously, even though it comes from a jerk. Positive steps with regard to the birth rate in Haiti would likely include more access to birth control and family planning for poor women and families, as well as abandoning the idea that families should be large, which belief comes from an agrarian age that has passed, and from a Catholic Church that has no sense with respect to this issue.

There are probably a lot of other factors involved, of which I am ignorant. Expecting to get a lot of criticism for writing critically about Haiti’s population issue, I e-mailed a Haitian friend with relatives on the island. He said,

The majority of the population are devout catholics (sic). The official catholic position is against birth control. That may be a contributing factor. I agree that it is a problem that could be avoided.

Haiti needs to be rebuilt. Rebuilding requires planning for the future, which necessarily planning for the future population, based on the present number of births and projections for the future. The present population statistics indicate that Haiti’s future problems, including the number of people living in poverty, would be diminished if women and men had access to family planning and birth control methods, as well as moral permission (the head of the predominant church is the Pope) to actually use these methods.

The following comes from the CIA Factbook regarding Haiti.

Age structure:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
0-14 years: 38.1% (male 1,735,917/female 1,704,383)
15-64 years: 58.5% (male 2,621,059/female 2,665,447)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 120,040/female 188,690) (2009 est.)
Median age:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
total: 20.2 years
male: 19.8 years
female: 20.7 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
1.838% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
Birth rate:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
29.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
Death rate:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
8.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85

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