The world is experiencing a global crash in children being born—and the projected 2100 population could see 183 out of 195 countries have a fertility rate below the replacement level.
The size of the population starts to fall when the number falls below approximately 2.1 children born per female. According to research published in The Lancet, fertility rate is projected to fall below 1.7 by the year 2100.
They include countries such as China, India, UK and Japan.
Global Crash in Fertility Rate
This means countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. This is what the study projects in its 2100 population:
- Under-fives: Decrease from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100
- Over 80-year-olds: Increase from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100
But contrary to what people might think of issues surrounding fertility such as sperm count, the decline in fertility rates is a result of improved access to women’s reproductive services (e.g. contraception), as well as education, the study states.
These factors lead to women choosing to have fewer children and at a later time.
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Declining Fertility Rate in Singapore
Like many other developed societies, Singapore is no exception when it comes to declining fertility rates.
And this is despite incentives given by the Government such as the offering of cash grants for new parents and public housing for young couples.
In fact, Singapore has been seeing mostly a downward trend in fertility since the 1980s.
Currently, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Singapore stands at 1.14 children per female in 2019.
According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, more Singapore mums are choosing to delay their birth. But rather than a case of merely being delayed, these missing babies are not replaced.
Fewer babies are born to mums between the ages of 25 to 29 years old, as compared to mums between the ages of 30 to 34 years old.
In 2019, there were 92.4 babies born out of every thousand females between 30 to 34 years old.
On the other hand, there were only 59.4 babies born in the same year for females between 25 to 29 years old.
The numbers are not offset by babies born by mums in the 30 to 34 year age group.
Implications to Working-age Population
According to the Lancet, the most affected will be high-income countries with fewer people of working age, those from 20 to 64 years old.
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Over the next 80 years, there will be a projected decrease in the number of people under 65 and an increase in those aged 65 or older.
And not just the workforce, population declines also mean major implications to education, health and social care planning, economic growth to geopolitical stability and even the environment.
Whether it is paying for healthcare, taxes, it is unimaginable what the younger generation will have to face.
“It will create enormous social change” said researcher Prof Christopher Murray to the BBC on population decline. “It makes me worried because I have an eight-year-old daughter and I wonder what the world will be like.”
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