Global Population Begins Plummeting as Fertility Rates Fall, Study

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Global population numbers have begun their descent, and are set to fall within decades due to massively reduced fertility rates, according to a major study published in the scientific journal The Lancet.

The study says that by the year 2050, 55 of 204 countries will have such low birth rates that it won’t be enough to sustain the population level.

As of 2021, the “total fertility rate” worldwide was 2.23, just slightly above the 2.1 children per woman required to maintain population growth.

That is a sharp contrast to the fertility rate in 1950, which stood at 4.84.

Researchers now predict that the current fertility rate will fall from 2.23 to just 1.83 by 2050 and may fall as low as 1.59 by 2100.

By that time, only 26 countries will have birth rates higher than the number of people dying as the rest of the world transitions into a “natural population decline.”

The population decline would mark the first time such an event has occurred in seven centuries.

The last time this happened was the Black Death bubonic plague, which saw the deaths of 50 million people in the mid-1300s, reducing the global population from 400 million to 350 million.

The study’s co-author, Dr. Natalia Bhattacharjee, the lead research scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, said declining fertility rates “will completely reconfigure the global economy and the international balance of power and will necessitate reorganizing societies.”

Bhattacharjee also notes that a significant consequence of declining birth rates is immigration from countries with still a “baby boom” as Western countries scramble to compensate for workforce shortages. This is also comes amid the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), which is already replacing vast amounts of the workforce, as the need to human labour decreases.

Meanwhile, senior author Professor Stein Emil Vollset from IHME warned that the world is “facing staggering social change through the 21st century” due to its population decline.

The warning echoes that of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has previously said that population decline is a significant threat to humanity, warning that if the trend is not reversed, it could be catastrophic.

In countries like Japan and South Korea, there are now twice as many people dying than being born, a worrying trend that supports the study.

South Korea’s Justice Minister recently warned his country now faces a “demographic catastrophe” and potential extinction otherwise.

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