Why So Few Arabs Die

I posted a comment on Unfogged explaining why death rates in the Arab world are so low. Cala suggested lack of birth control as a reason, in response to which I said:

Cala, it’s not just lack of birth control. The entire third world lacks birth control, but its total death rate can be very high or very low.

Rather, what’s different is that Arab states are fairly well-developed. Iraq had a burgeoning middle class; Saudi Arabia once had a GDP per capita on a par with the developed world; Qatar has a higher GDP per capita than Japan. With the exception of Jordan and Palestine, all Arab countries with a death rate less than 4.5 also have a 5-figure GDP per capita.

All the curable diseases that haunt Sub-Saharan Africa are either absent or barely present in the Middle East and Mediterranean Africa. It’s not as if there’s no health infrastructure in the Middle East, then. Kuwait doesn’t have the same quality of health care as Japan, but it doesn’t have the same quality as Afghanistan, either. Iraq and Yemen, both of which have high death rates by regional standards, also have very high infant mortality.

Here’s where birth control comes in. The Middle East isn’t the most misogynistic region of the world – some areas of South Asia are even worse – but it’s misogynistic enough that women are kept barefoot and pregnant. Add that to oil-based elites that have no interest in keeping the population educated, and you get a population boom that creates a third-world age structure, without the endemic diseases that keep life expectancy dismally low in countries like Niger and Sierra Leone.

8 Responses to Why So Few Arabs Die

  1. SLC says:

    What Mr. Levy neglects to tell his readers is that, due to a high birth rate in many Arab countries, the averave age therein is much lower then in Western countries with much lower birth rates. It is a well known fact that older people are more likely to die then younger people.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    I thought that mentioning lack of birth control would be enough… but as I said in this very post, it’s not enough. Sub-Saharan Africa has the same birth rates as the Middle East. But it’s also plagued by both curable and incurable diseases and by malnutrition, which reduce its life expectancy dramatically.

  3. SLC says:

    And also AIDS is epidemic in Africa, causing many of the babies born their to be HIV positive at birth, leading to an early demise.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    AIDS is a major contributor, but it’s not the only or even the main one. Third-world countries that have very little AIDS, like Yemen, have moderate or high death rates.

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