World’s population expected to fall for first time since the Black Death

A new study published in the Lancet medical journal has predicted that the world’s population will fall for the first time in centuries… proving, yet again, that overpopulation fears are not founded in reality. Population decline, meanwhile, continues to be a major concern across the globe.

According to the study, by 2050, three quarters of countries across the world will be below replacement rate, meaning they cannot sustain their population size. By 2100, that is estimated to increase to 97%. This means the population could begin falling within just decades, the first time it will have done so since the Black Death — an epidemic of bubonic plague in the 1300s.

The fertility rate is the number of children each woman births on average, and to meet replacement rate levels, each woman would need to have 2.1 children. In 1950, the worldwide fertility rate was 4.84; by 2021, that figure had plummeted to just 2.23, just barely over what is needed to sustain the current population. Numerous countries already have fertility rates far below replacement levels, such as South Korea and the United Kingdom. It is predicted that the only countries to continue to have population increases are western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are facing staggering social change through the 21st century,” senior author Professor Stein Emil Vollset said. “The world will be simultaneously tackling a ‘baby boom’ in some countries and a ‘baby bust’ in the others. As most of the world contends with the serious challenges to the economic growth of a shrinking workforce and how to care for and pay for aging populations, many of the most resource-limited countries in sub-Saharan Africa will be grappling with how to support the youngest, fastest-growing population on the planet in some of the most politically and economically unstable, heat-stressed, and health system-strained places on earth.”

READ: China’s population drops for second year in a row as country tries to reverse course

“The implications are immense,” co-lead author Dr. Natalia V. Bhattacharjee agreed. “These future trends in fertility rates and livebirths will completely reconfigure the global economy and the international balance of power and will necessitate reorganising societies. Global recognition of the challenges around migration and global aid networks are going to be all the more critical when there is fierce competition for migrants to sustain economic growth and as sub-Saharan Africa’s baby boom continues apace.”

Much of the now-discredited fear of overpopulation can be traced to Paul Ehrlich’s book, “The Population Bomb.” Though overpopulation is a myth, Ehrlich continues to be featured as an expert on the issue, still claiming overpopulation is a threat, even as global fertility rates fall. Many of these fears are born out of nothing more than racism, in an attempt to keep poor and non-white countries from reproducing “too much.” Population control continues to be pushed onto these countries by wealthy, white westerners hoping to curb the births of children in Black, Hispanic, and Asian countries.

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