.- Fertility levels have plummeted in the last 30 years while divorce rates and the use of contraceptives have increased worldwide, says a new UN report. According to an article by the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, the UNâs World Fertility Report 2003 says developing countries experienced the most dramatic declines between 1970 and 2000. China had one of the largest reductions of about four children per woman.
In developed countries, the median total fertility fell by 0.8 children per woman.
The report, issued by the UN Population Division (UNPD) this week, documents that by the late 1990s, only four developed countries, including the United States, "reported a total fertility of two children per woman or higher."
Fourteen developed countries had fertility levels "lower than 1.3 children per woman, an unprecedented low level of fertility in the recorded history of large populations."
Despite dropping fertility rates, nearly half of the world's governments want to further reduce the fertility of their citizens, and almost all governments now support family planning programs and the distribution of contraceptives, says the report.
Since 2001, the median use of modern contraceptives in developing countries is 30 percent, up from 18 percent in the 1970s. In a quarter of developing countries, 62 percent or more of women who are married or in unions use contraceptives.
The median use of modern contraception has also increased in developed countries from 54 to 61 per cent of women currently married or in union. Only Austria recorded a drop, by nearly 10 percent.
The median divorce rate in developed countries increased since the 1970s from 13 divorces per 100 men and women to 24 divorces per 100 men and 27 per 100 women in the 1990s.
Developing countries have also seen a tripled divorce rate for women, from five to 15 divorces per 100 women, and a rise from seven to 12 divorces per 100 men.
According to the report, "both men and women are spending longer periods of their life being single." In developed countries in the 1990s, only 43 percent of men and 62 percent of women aged 25-29 had ever been married.