Wolfgang Lutz: Knowledge has greater effect on fertility and life expectancy than money (VIDEO)
On June 13, world famous demographer Wolfgang Lutz delivered a lecture at the Presidential Academy on Education, Health and Economic Growth in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Wolfgang Lutz is one of the world's leading experts in the study of human capital and its role in global climate, social and economic processes. He is the founder and director of the Wittgenstein Center in Vienna, Austria, director of the World Population program at the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and professor at the WU-Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Professor Lutz has been involved in the study of demography for over 35 years. In recent years, education, health, and economic growth in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become the main interest and focus of his research. The expert is confident that demography is mathematics of groups of people, which studies changes in the size and composition of human populations. There are three fundamental processes in demography, Wolfgang Lutz says: fertility, mortality, and migration. However, in multi-dimensional analysis, the models will also include the rate of transition from one state to another.
Presenting a graph of the world population over the past 200 years, the demographer pointed out that when he was a schoolboy, the planet’s population was about three billion people. Over the years, this figure has more than doubled. At IIASA, they are now working on the problem of the world population, and the main question the experts are trying to answer is whether the population of the Earth will reach 10 billion.
Wolfgang Lutz talked about the demographic transition. The professor explained that there is nothing unusual about the fertility boom in Africa, since a similar process has taken place in Europe – only in Africa, it began 100 years later. He cited data on the demographic transition in Finland (1722–2017), where mortality and fertility varied considerably depending on various developments, especially wars. “In many countries, an increase in population is the result of migration,” Lutz emphasized.
The expert then spoke about the correlation between incomes and life expectancy according to the Preston study. Lutz and his colleagues decided to conduct a similar study, only focusing on the impact of education, not income. The resulting graph showed much smoother correlations between life expectancy and education, than on income. “So what is more important for health – money or education?” the demographer asked the audience.
Using the example of India, Wolfgang Lutz showed that mortality among rich but poorly educated people is higher than among rich and educated people. These results provide an answer to the question he asked – when it comes to survival, “knowledge plays a greater role than money.” Continuing the topic of education, the demographer explained that it has a significant impact on fertility. Studies show that uneducated women give birth to three to four times more children than educated ones; this happens because educated women think more reasonably, understanding that a family is a big responsibility.