Whoever thought demographics were a slow moving sector devoid of surprises is in for a shock when faced with the latest data from Algeria. For the first time, the number of births in this North African county surpassed the 1 million mark. Between 2000 and 2015 the total of births almost doubled and the number of marriages more than doubled. Algeria is expected to count a population of 41.2 million in 2017, one third more than the entire population of North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya) in 1960 and almost fourfold Algeria’s population in 1960.
What is the reason for this baby boom? It’s not a runaway birth rate. To the contrary: the birth rate appears stable between 2.4 and 3.5 children per family with little difference between urban and rural areas. It’s the marriage rate which has shot up from 5 per thousand in 2000 to 9 per thousand in 2015. In addition, the average wedding age has decreased, a development which boosted fertility and raised the number of births, according to the Minister of Health, Amer Ouaali.
He expects this trend to show up even more clearly in the forthcoming census of 2018. Much progress has been made in lowering child mortality from 36 per thousand in 2000 to 22 per thousand births in 2015, although the current level of perinatal deaths is still too high, Mr. Ouaali indicated.