“Mohammadi represents a worrisome trend to the Iranian government: More young couples are wary of having babies in the climate of economic instability caused by international sanctions. The disenchantment comes as the ruling Islamist clergy, alarmed by Iran’s meager population growth rate — estimated at 1% in 2011 by the United Nations — has mounted a campaign for families to have more children. Iran’s leaders fear the prospect of an aging population that would burden the welfare system and severely diminish productivity. Without a change, Iran’s median age is expected to rise from 27 to 40 by 2030…………The desire to migrate has also played a significant role in the lack of interest among young Iranians to have children — along with a turn away by women from conservative religious values as they seek equal footing with men…..………”
I posted on this topic before regrading Iran, and also about the Gulf GCC population policies. I still suspect that the main reason for this policy reversal is economic and financial. The mullahs couch it in religious and nationalist terms because that is what their base, their political supporters, understands best. It is the same story in other places, especially Europe and Japan: as the population ages, there is more demand on retirement age-related resources and less money going in. They need to get creative and find ways of replenishing these resources and making them more productive. A huge population explosion now a la Egypt or India would only postpone the problem and have it pop up later on a larger scale.
Now there is an idea in our region that more people means strength. The rulers, especially on the Gulf, encourage population growth. It is probably a tribal-ethnic-sectarian thing. In the old days, and even now in some places, the larger the tribe the more powerful it is. Yet this is erroneous. Look at Israel with a population of around 6 million: she defeated all Arab regime armies in whatever combination one could think of, several times. Six million defeated more than 200 million. Look at Hezbollah: representing less than 50% of Lebanon, barely two and maybe a half million people, yet it defeated the mighty Israeli IDF, twice (in 2000 and 2006)! I have no doubt that they can also defeat any Arab army now (that includes the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi and Qatari and Saudi Wehrmacht combined).
It is not the quantity, stupid. It is the quality, stupid!