Iran's Demographic Window of Opportunity

Trends in Iran's population growth and total fertility rate.

Iran 2040 Project

According to the 2016 census, Iran’s population reached close to 80 million while its growth rate dropped to 1.2% a year—a rate similar to today’s world average but substantially lower than its peak a few decades earlier.

Between the 1976 and 1986 censuses, Iran’s population grew from 34 million to nearly 50 million, corresponding to an average annual growth rate of 3.9%. A decade later, however, Iran surprised the world when the results of its 1996 census showed a rapid decline in the population growth rate due to a record fertility decline. In a mere ten-year period, the country’s total fertility rate declined from 6.2 births per woman in 1986 to 2.5 births per woman in 1996.   

A new report from the Iran 2040 Project of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, discusses these past trends as well as the future projections of Iran’s population dynamics, and evaluates the contributions of its major determinants (i.e., fertility, mortality, and migration). In particular, the report addresses changes in women’s reproductive behavior and population age distribution. The report also discusses unemployment as well as the rising trend of young people pursuing education beyond high school, and projects the future educational attainments of Iranians.

"Iran is currently in the midst of a demographic window of opportunity which will last about four decades before its working-age population starts to diminish in the mid-2040s," says the report's authors--Farzaneh Roudi, Former Director of the Middle East & North Africa Program at the Population Reference Bureau, and Pooya Azadi and Mohsen Mesgaran of the Iran 2040 Project. "The opportunity must be seized now before the share of the working-age population shrinks and the population grows older."

Download the full report via the Iran 2040 Project