A recently published study in the Lancet Journal revealed that for the first time in centuries, the world’s population is set to decline starting in the next few decades.
There are currently around 7.8 billion people in the world. Forecasters believe the world population will peak at around 9.7 billion in 2064 before steadily declining to 8.79 billion by 2100.
More than 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and South Korea, will see their populations decreased by 50% as a result of low birth rates and an aging population.
Even China is not immune to this population decline. The most populous country in the world has a projected population decline from 1.4 billion people at its peak to 732 million in 2100.
“The last time that global population declined was in the mid 14th century, due to the Black Plague. If our forecast is correct, it will be the first time population decline is driven by fertility decline, as opposed to events such as a pandemic or famine.”Stein Emil Vollset, the study’s lead author and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)
There are some countries, however, that are forecasted to see a population increase.
Countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to triple their population from 1.03 billion in 2017 to 3.07 billion in 2100.
“Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence,” said Stein Emil Vollset. “By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the U.S. the dominant powers.”
According to Vollset, there the two key factors for the population decline are: “Improvements in access to modern contraception and the education of girls and women.”
“These factors drive the fertility rate – the average number of children a woman delivers over her lifetime which is the largest determinant of population. The global total fertility rate is predicted to steadily decline, from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate (2.1 live births per woman) considered necessary to maintain population numbers.“Stein Emil Vollset, the study’s lead author and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)
Few days ago, the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk shared similar sentiments at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council.
“I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birthrate. And yet, so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control. It’s completely the opposite. Please look at the numbers – if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla
Do you agree with Elon Musk that the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate?