Child bust: new report predicts world inhabitants crash

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A new study published in a leading UK medical journal predicts that global fertility rates will fall well below replacement levels by 2100 and that the population of many countries will decrease by half in the coming century.

The article, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, is titled "Fertility, Mortality, Migration, and Population Scenarios for 195 Countries and Territories from 2017 to 2100: A Forecast Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study". The research was conducted by the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The researchers found that total fertility rate (TFR), the average number of children a woman was born throughout her life, will decrease to 1.66 worldwide by 2100. The world's population is expected to peak at 9.73 billion in 2064 before falling due to falling birth rates.

A TFR of 2.1 is considered the "replacement level". This means that adults produce enough children to eventually replace them in society. The number is 2.1 instead of 2 to take into account the number of children who do not survive adulthood. With a TFR of 2.1, the population of an area is expected to remain stable. If it is higher, it will grow, and if it is smaller, the population will contract.

"Our results suggest that sustained trends in women's educational levels and access to contraception will accelerate fertility decline and slow population growth," the article said. The results could have a dramatic impact worldwide.

“A sustained TFR that is below replacement in many countries, including China and India, would have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical ramifications. Policy options to adapt to persistently low fertility while maintaining and improving women's reproductive health will be critical in the years to come, ”they said.

The study found that between 2017 and 2100, 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand and Spain, would lose more than 50% of their population due to low birth rates if the trends did not improve. The approximate current population in Japan, Thailand and Spain is 125 million, 69 million and 47 million, respectively.

China, which currently has around 1.4 billion inhabitants, will have a 48% population decline by 2100. Researchers predict that by 2035 the Chinese economy will overshadow that of the United States, but the United States will again be the largest economy by 2098 due to falling birth rates.

The countries where the population is expected to continue to grow are mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Pakistan are currently the five most populous countries in the world. Researchers predict that by 2100 India, Nigeria, the United States, China and Pakistan will be the five most populous countries.

The data was organized according to various metrics: a modeling of the population as a continuation of the current trends in terms of births and migration and one if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are achieved by 2030. The United Nations' sustainable development goals include expanded education and increased contraceptive distribution.

If each country meets the SDGs by 2030, only researchers predict that only three countries – Israel, Samoa and Zimbabwe – would have a TFR greater than 2 by 2100.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the study, partially focuses on the distribution of contraceptives as a means to fight poverty.

"We are working with countries that are committed to improving access to quality, voluntary family planning to reduce maternal and newborn mortality," says the Gates Foundation website, which provides an overview of their family planning programs .

“Our deepest commitments are in India and Nigeria. We also work with public and private partners and make selected investments in Indonesia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "

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