What To Do When The Population Drops

<p>Demographic trends are shifting all over the world, leading scientists to believe that the global population may soon peak and decline. Demographers argue that how countries and regions handle the decline will be critical in the long-term.</p>
July 28, 2007, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"Numbers are still growing; but recently-it is impossible to know exactly when-an inflection point seems to have been reached. The rate of population increase began to slow. In more and more countries, women started having fewer children than the number required to keep populations stable. Four out of nine people already live in countries in which the fertility rate has dipped below the replacement rate. Last year the United Nations said it thought the world's average fertility would fall below replacement by 2025. Demographers expect the global population to peak at around 10 billion (it is now 6.5 billion) by mid-century."

But now, "the number of people in the world is likely to start falling."

"The opposite problem - that the population will fall so fast or so far that civilisation is threatened - doesn't seem a real danger. The projections suggest a flattening off and then a slight decline in the foreseeable future."

"Adjusting to decline poses problems, which three areas of the world-central and eastern Europe, from Germany to Russia; the northern Mediterranean; and parts of East Asia, including Japan and South Korea-are already facing."

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Published on Thursday, July 26, 2007 in The Economist
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