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The World is at Risk of Population Decline, And We Aren’t Ready for it

The world may be falling apart. But recent studies believe that there won’t be very many people around to see it. Birth rates around the world are in decline, and researchers are warning of the impact it will have if we don’t prepare for it.

According to a new study by researchers from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, birth rates are falling hard. And if their estimations are correct, they will fall even harder over time.

One way to measure this kind of thing is with fertility rates, or the average number of children a woman will give birth to. To maintain an average population, this rate needs to be about 2.1. If it falls below that, the general population will start to decline.

The fertility rate was 4.7 in 1950. It dropped to 2.3 by 2017. And now they estimate it will fall to 1.7 by 2100.

This can create a dangerous imbalance to most societal structures, unfortunately. Society relies on a healthy population to function. This is the entire purpose of taxes: charge everyone a small amount in order to build something massive for everyone.

A perfect example of this is the social security system. At its most basic, it borrows money from the workforce to financially support the elderly that are too old to work. The problem with this is that if there aren’t enough young folk working, there won’t be enough money to support the retired. 

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar of University College London proposes that these reduced populations may open a demand for more migration policies. As the working class becomes more scarce, certain countries will rely on foreign populations to relocate for work.

“If these predictions are even half accurate, migration will become a necessity for all nations and not an option. To be successful we need a fundamental rethink of global politics. The distribution of working-age populations will be crucial to whether humanity prospers or withers.”

But Why?

According to the research, one reason that fertility has declined is because women are getting better access to reproductive health education and easier access to contraceptives. There are far fewer instances of unplanned pregnancy as a result. They also warn, however, that the answer to this problem is to not backtrack on progress toward women’s rights.

Instead, one recommendation is to provide easier means of living for the younger generations. Countries like the United States have seen a rise in the cost of living, while wages remain stagnant. The cost of education, housing, medical care, and more quickly overwhelm the current average wages. This has led many families to choose a child-free lifestyle, not wanting to risk financial danger for parenthood. Researchers suggest that societies invest more in social programs like free education, free medical, and a higher minimum wage, in order to further encourage fertility.

What Can We Do?

The real answer to this requires large societal change. We could recommend the standard “vote for better in elections.” But what about you, the individual? We’d recommend investing in independent retirement accounts early on to ensure safe financial support in the future. If you have children, introducing them to the same concepts early on would also be a good idea. 

If you can manage it, setting up savings accounts for your children can make a world of difference as well. Putting 50 bucks away once a month can become over 10 grand by the time your kid turns 18, just in time for college. And that’s not including interest. Make it $100, and that is over 20k, which would allow them to afford the down payment on a modest house. Help support the next generation get over the obstacles that the current generation is having trouble with.

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