Will the Indian population decline
The world population will decrease drastically if the birth rate continues to fall
The world is ill-prepared for a significant decline in the birth rate. American researchers and their study published in the journal “Lancet” predict that this will have "revolutionary" effects on society.
Falling birth rates mean that by the end of the century, the population will shrink in almost every country. And 23 nations - including Spain and Japan - are expected to have half the population of today by 2100. The proportion of "senior citizens" will increase dramatically, as a great many people live to be 80 years old.
A maximum of one child per family as standard?
The birth rate - the average number of children a woman gives birth to - is falling. When the number drops below about 2.1, the population begins to decline. In 1950 women had an average of 4.7 children. Researchers at the University of Washington showed that the global fertility rate almost halved in 2017 with an average of 2.4 children - they assume that it will fall below 1.7 by 2100.
As a result, experts expect the number of people on the planet to stand at 9.7 billion by 2064, before dropping to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.
"That's pretty impressive. Most of the world is going into a natural population decline," Professor Christopher Murray told the BBC.
"I think it's incredibly difficult to think about it and see how important it is. It's huge, we have to reorganize societies."
Why are birth rates falling?
It has nothing to do with sperm counts or the usual things that come to mind when discussing fertility.
Instead, the higher proportion of women who work and are educated, as well as better access to contraception, contribute to this. This leads women to consciously choose to have fewer or no children.
Which countries are hardest hit?
Japan's population is projected to decline from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century.
In Italy, an equally dramatic drop in population from 61 million to 28 million is expected over the same period.
That's only two of 23 countries - which also include Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea - whose populations are expected to more than halve.
"That is enormous," said Prof. Christopher Murray. China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is projected to peak in population at 1.4 billion in four years before dropping almost in half by 2100 at 732 million. India will take its place.
The UK is projected to peak at 75 million in 2063 and drop to 71 million by 2100.
Child-poor countries are a global problem
However, this will become a truly global problem as 183 out of 195 countries have a fertility rate below that which could replace the existing population.
Perhaps it would be positive that a smaller population density would reduce carbon emissions and less forest would be cleared. But the changed age structure (more old people than young people) would have a lot of negative consequences, said Prof. Murray.
The experts have calculated the following figures in advance:
- The number of children under five will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100.
- The number of people over 80 will increase from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100.
Prof. Murray added, "This is going to bring tremendous social change. It worries me because I have an eight-year-old daughter and I wonder what the world will be like." Who pays taxes in a massively aged world? Who Funds Healthcare for the Elderly? Who takes care of the elderly? Will people still be able to retire?
We should slow down the development, is the recommendation of Prof. Murray.
Are there any solutions?
Countries, including the UK, have tried to use migrants to strengthen their populations and offset falling birth rates. However, this may no longer be the answer once the population is shrinking in almost every country.
"We will move from the time there is a choice of whether or not to open borders to a period of open competition for migrants as there are not enough," warned Prof. Murray.
Some countries have tried measures such as improved maternity and paternity leave, free childcare, financial incentives and additional employment rights, but there is no clear answer.
Sweden raised its birthrate from 1.7 to 1.9, but other countries that have made significant efforts to combat "baby flight" have barely succeeded. Singapore still has a birth rate of around 1.3.
Prof. Murray added, "People are laughing about it now. They just can't imagine it could come true. They think women will choose to have more children."
"If we cannot find a solution, we will eventually die out, but that development is still a few centuries away."
How do countries fight falling birth rates?
Scientists warn against reversing advances in women's education and access to contraception.
Prof. Stein Emil Vollset suggested, "The response to population decline is likely to become a political priority in many countries, but must not interfere with efforts to improve women's reproductive health or advances in women's rights."
What about africa?
The population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to triple to more than three billion people by 2100. And the study says Nigeria will become the second largest country in the world with 791 million people.
Prof. Murray made it clear: "We will have many more people of African origin in many more countries if we go through this development."
"An awareness of the challenges related to racism must develop around the world when a large number of people of African origin live in many countries."
Why is 2.1 the fertility rate threshold?
Many suspect that a fertility rate of 2.0 would save the population from extinction - two parents have two children to keep the population the same. But even with the best health care, not all children survive into adulthood. Also, babies are slightly more likely to be male. This means that the "replacement number" in developed countries is 2.1. Nations with higher child mortality rates also need a higher birth rate.
What do the experts say?
Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar from University College London (UCL) explains: "If these predictions are only halfway true, migration will be a necessity for all nations and not an option."
"To be successful, we have to fundamentally rethink global politics." "The distribution of the working-age population will largely determine whether humanity thrives or withers."
Source: BBC News, Lancet
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