The population decline is a bad thing

The world population will begin to shrink after 2064

Is that such a bad thing?

Visitors crowd together as they enjoy the hot weather on the beach on June 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, UK.

Photo by Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images
  • According to recent research at the University of Washington, there will be a significant population decline after 2064.
  • Reasons include better access to contraception and better education for girls and women.
  • Many countries will have to grapple with the social and financial consequences of their decline.

After two centuries of unprecedented growth, the human population will begin to decline after 2064. This is good news for a number of reasons, mostly because it signals an increase in the education of girls and women.

That's the word from a large team of researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment (IHME) of the University of Washington's School of Medicine. Their results were recently published in The Lancet.

Is there anything faster than the speed of light?

The team predicts that the world's population will peak at 9.7 billion by 2064, before dropping to 8.8 billion by the turn of the century. This contradicts previous findings of the United Nations, but there are still a billion more people than are living on earth today.

For humans to replace the population, the total fertility rate (TFR) must be 2.1 births per woman. With improved access to contraception and better education for girls and women, the incentive to have children has decreased.

In some regions the decline was dramatic. For example, in Italy and Spain the TFR is now 1.2, while in Poland it is 1.17. Even in regions with high fertility, the tide changes. Sub-Saharan African women had an average of 4.6 births per woman in 2017; That number is projected to decrease to 1.7 in 2100. Niger has the highest birth rate in the world: 7 births per woman. In 2100 a decrease to 1.8 is forecast.

The population decline will have significant financial consequences. The researchers believe that the nations must now start planning this. They write about people of working age (aged 20 to 64 years):

'A huge decline in the number of workers was projected in China and India, while in Nigeria there was a steady increase. India was predicted to still have the largest working-age population in the world by 2100, followed by Nigeria, China and the US. '

Mapping the world population and the future of the world The economist

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, remarks on the study, writing,

"It offers a vision for radical changes in geopolitical power, challenges myths about immigration, and underscores the importance of protecting and strengthening women's sexual and reproductive rights." The 21st century will see a revolution in the history of our human civilization. Africa and the Arab world will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence. '

The fastest shrinking population groups include Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Japan, which has been grappling with this reality, will drop from 128 million in 2017 to 60 million in 2100 for years; Thailand from 71 to 35 million; Portugal, 11 to 5 million; and South Korea 53 to 27 million.

The study focuses on expansion but does not discuss how quickly we got to current levels. After 350,000 years homo sapiens We met a billion people on earth in 1804. It took 123 years to add another billion. 33 years to get to three billion; 14 years to four billion. If we reach eight billion by the end of this decade, we will have quadrupled our population in just a century.

These are unsustainable numbers. As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, supply chain management and healthcare systems are broken in many countries, especially America. Thanks to the outsourcing of labor and our for-profit health model, income inequality is breaking our society. Adding more people to our population during a pandemic, with seniors being the most vulnerable population, should give us a break.

Stein Emil Vollset et al.

Of course, reproduction is more of a biological than a philosophical process. Survivability is every goal. Even so, we have used contraception and education to mitigate the potential harm from overcrowding, the study suggests. Either we have to distribute resources more fairly around the world - which is difficult to imagine in a capitalist system - or we have to pay the price of giving birth to too many people. The latter could be suppressed if we have fewer children.

Stein Emil Vollset, professor of global health at IHME and lead author of the study, weighs the costs and benefits:

'While population decline is potentially good news for reducing carbon emissions and burdening food systems with more old and fewer young people, economic challenges will arise when societies struggle to grow with fewer workers and taxpayers, and the ability of countries to generate wealth. ' The resources needed to fund social support and health care for the elderly are being reduced. "

The researchers believe that immigration will be an even more pressing issue in the decades to come. This could mean that less space is inhabited as people crowd into ecologically and financially robust regions - an impending reality due to climate change.

Those who fail history are doomed to repeat it

In conclusion, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar from University College London commented on the study with the words: 'The distribution of the working-age population will determine whether humanity thrives or withers.' Depending on your age, you may not have to worry about this, but our children and grandchildren for sure will.

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Keep in touch with Derek Twitter, Facebook, and Substack. His next book is ' Hero's Dose: The case for psychedelics in ritual and therapy. '