How Literacy Effects World Population Growth

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Understanding the impact literacy has on the world's population growth. One surprisingly encouraging number discovered during the informational search had to do with Africa. Even though Africa has approximately 69% of the worlds HIV and AIDS cases, the po

How Literacy Effects the World Population Growth

For some time there has been some ambiguity about the derivation of the term Third World. It presupposes there must be a First and Second World. The following tables and data have been compiled in an effort to show some demarcation with respect to this point. It is not a traditional definition but it does demonstrate some criteria for establishing different world orders.

The first table depicts eight countries, generally thought to be First World. The second table has six countries. Their status as Second World may be more controversial than those characterized in table one or three. The third table has thirty five countries. This table obviously has the greatest amount of entries and to some extent it may come as no surprise. It categorically shows the trends of the Third World. In all tables countries have been left out for reasons of practicality. However, enough are shown to give a significant picture of the trends.

As the title suggest the article focuses on population primarily as a function of growth. The literacy rate is a secondary concern. Other specific data compared, is the literacy of women, average age of the population and what if any correlation there might be to population growth. These particular comparisons are easily described using the trends to draw a distinction to help differentiate the three world orders.

With the defining values as literacy and population growth rates, the boundaries are drawn as follows. The First World is based on a literacy rates greater than 98% for the entire population while growth rates are below .60. With respect to the Second World, the literacy rates are greater than 70% while growth rates are between .60 and .88. Then finally, the Third World, the literacy rates are greater than 12%, while the growth rates are between .99 and 3.83.


At first there might be some confusion because of the overlap in literacy rates. Keep in mind the determining factor as to why a country was placed in a given world order primarily rest upon population growth rate. To the extent each country shares other commonalities this will give the table’s characterization more weight. There are some countries that seem out of place. For example, the United Sates, China, Iran and India are the most obvious. For their part the growth rate trends justifies the placement.

Keeping this in mind, the three tables could have been just as easily referred to in social structural terms like the world’s upper class, middle class and lower class. Such classification would not have eliminated the controversy. Perhaps one set of expressions more preferable would have been Old World, New World and Future World. If one wishes, these terms can be taken literally. In another sense they are truly metaphorical. However, framing the United States, China and Iran as a part of the New World Order with India being at the heart of the Future World Order is perhaps less contentious.

As long as when reviewing the data it is understood the strongest determining factor for why a country appears in a certain table has to do with growth rate, it will minimize any distress to everyone’s sensibilities.

Having said all that, in the first table, Russia and Japan are at the top. They represent the First World, (Or Old World or the Upper Class, the choice is left up to the reader). The list shows those countries enjoying the lowest population growth rates coupled with the highest literacy. Literacy, in cases of both the population as a whole and women are equally high.

This brings us to the Second World, China and Thailand lead the way with the lowest population rates and relatively high literacy. The United States is holding up the last position because of the relatively high population growth rate but with the noticeably highest literacy rates.

There are some obvious points of contention here. If it were not for the high population growth rate, the United States would definitely be First World. Especially since the United States further has an aging population, another indicator of First World. Yet an aging population in this case may also have to do with a good medical system and high life expectancy or the “Baby Boomer” Phenomena. As apposed to the case of the other First World countries were all of the above apply and decrease in population growth is the acceptable key factor.

Also it should be noted from a historical perspective it looks like a country with a rich heritage like China one would think they would be First World as well. It would appear that countries like the US, China and India, (India which is Third World), have the ability to transcend all three worlds.

It is very interesting that China, Iran and the United States fall into the same category of the Second World. However, when mentioning these three countries it might be better to make reference to the category as members of the New World Order. The countries notably falling into this order may have the dubious distinction of being entities most suited to have a significant effect on the world stage. Or stated another way, they may be strategically positioned to have the most profound impact on bringing about the Future World or Third World.


The Third World is led by Vietnam and Tunisia while Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil and India are the most populous.

For those countries traditionally thought to be male dominated such as the Arab Nations, men generally out number women, juxtaposed to the First World where woman out number men. In the Third World the literacy rate for women is also traditionally lower, juxtaposed to the First World where it is equal to those of men. Another characteristic, different in those communities is the population growth rate. In the Third World, it is sometimes well over 2.00, while in the First World the numbers are well below 1.00 and in most cases show a decline.

Other contrast, in most Arab, central Asian and African societies the numbers with respect to literacy for women are relatively low and the number of men tends to out pace the number of women. However it is uncertain in those countries traditionally thought to be male dominated, if the population numbers for women out pace the numbers for men, is it a false indicator? It might be these are signs where perhaps the specific countries have matriarchal systems. Such a practice might allow the increasing numbers for women to come into play.

In most cases where the literacy rate is exceptionally low and especially in the case of women, as mentioned the population growth rate is well above 2.00. It is worth noting the impact of Islam may also be a factor. Most of the countries in the Third World are greatly influenced by Islam. This influence can be seen not just in the Arab world but in Africa and countries like Indonesia as well. The other thing all of these countries have in common is the average age of their population’s. They are all relatively young. In many cases the average age is around 20 years. It would appear that the Third World is primed as the next generation in this regards.

One surprisingly encouraging number discovered during the informational search had to do with Africa. Even though Africa has approximately 69% of the worlds HIV and AIDS cases, the population is expected to grow from 800 million to 1.8 billion in the year 2050. This is a staggering increase. Under the current circumstance, if the trends remain the same, Africa will go from being 13% of the world to 34% of the population in approximately 50 years.

The burden will not only be on solving the AIDS crisis but how to feed such masses. Currently Africa produces enough food to feed about 37% of its population. Food production will definitely be the industry of the future as the population of the entire world is slated to go from 6.7 billion in 2009 to 9.3 billion in 2050.


Posted on Jun 11, 2011
Abron Toure
Posted on May 15, 2010
Posted on May 15, 2010