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July 16, 2020 - Declining fertility rates around the world mean almost every country could have shrinking populations by 2100, with major implications for societies, the economy and the environment, researchers say.
The study, published in The Lancet, says 183 out of 195 countries will not be able to maintain current populations by the end of the century.
23 countries, including Japan, Thailand and Spain, are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Another 34 would lose between a quarter and a half of their citizens. China is expected to lose 48 percent of its population.
More women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, is leading to fewer children being born.
If the fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – falls below 2.1, the size of the population begins to decline.
In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) showed the global fertility rate almost halved to 2.4 in 2017. By 2100, it is projected to fall below 1.7.
As a result, the world’s population is expected to peak at 9.7 billion in 2064, up from 8.7 billion today, before falling to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.
IHME director Christopher Murray, said: “These forecasts suggest good news for the environment, with less stress on food production systems and lower carbon emissions, as well as significant economic opportunity for parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
“However, most countries outside of Africa will see shrinking workforces and inverting population pyramids, which will have profound negative consequences for the economy.”