Population Explosion Ends In a Whimper
By Glen Hiemstra, 2000
“We have grown up with the threat of the population bomb, and with great hoopla and concern the global population crossed the 6-billion mark in the year 2000.”
If asked to make a list of the top 5 or 10 problems facing the world, most people educated in developed countries would include “over population” on the list. We have grown up with the threat of the population bomb, and with great hoopla and concern the global population crossed the 6-billion mark in the year 2000.
What if population growth were no longer a problem? Sometime within the next ten years a global conference will convene on the question, “What are we to do about the declining population in the world.”
This still surprises most people, though we are beginning to wake up in the past year or so. What is actually happening? The rate of global population growth is slowing steadily. In the year 2000 it is expected that 78 million persons will be added to the global population, compared to 86 million at the peak of population growth a few years ago. More than 60 nations in the world, including Russia, Canada, Australia, Japan, all of Europe, and elsewhere have fertility rates which have fallen below the rate needed to maintain a steady state population. This rate is 2.1 children per woman. Only four nations in the world have seen their fertility rate increase since 1980 – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Ethiopia – and among these only Ethiopia has a fertility rate greater than 2.1.
The U.N. has been revising its population forecasts downward, [http://www.undp.org/popin/wdtrends/wdtrends.htm] (link expired) and while it still assumes nearly a century of growth and a peak near 9.5 billion, it seems more likely that further downward revisions are likely. In fact, the best bet is that the world population will peak by 2025, at something around 7.8 billion, and decline after that.
Don’t believe this? Russia, Germany, and Japan have all officially raised alarms this year about declining population in their countries, and more countries will soon follow.
Among the implications:
- The need to open immigration laws to allow for greater movement of the global work force.
bullet The likelihood of intense values-based political debate about whether to encourage larger families in developed nations, eventually in all nations.
- Whether advances in longevity will offset the decline in birth rates such that population growth will be sustained longer into the 21st Century.
- A declining number of young people compared to a growing number of old people.
- How we will maintain a growing global economy if there are fewer customers each year (and debate whether we should grow).
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, author, consultant, blogger, internet video host and Founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.