Baby, look at us now

Robin Lustig on a rosy analysis of population trends in an ageing world

The World Today
Published 8 February 2019 Updated 9 November 2020 3 minute READ

Robin Lustig

Journalist, broadcaster and presenter, The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 and Newshour on BBC World Service (1989-2012)

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World

Paul Morland, John Murray, £25

A few years ago, I met Baratu Lee, a young mother living in a remote village in eastern Sierra Leone. She was – she thought – about 27 years old, and she already had 10 children. The first had been born when she was 12 or 13.

The infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone, at around 90 per thousand children, is among the highest in the world. Three of Baratu’s children died before their first birthday. It is little wonder that women in the world’s poorest countries continue to produce large families, knowing that too many of their children will die in infancy.

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