Not Enough Babies: Global Fertility Rate Nears Tipping Point, Says Report

A recent report by the Wall Street Journal says that the decreasing fertility rate observed around the world is set to reach a tipping point. While fertility rates have decreased from 5 in the 1960s to 2.4 in 2021, a new milestone is on the horizon as it could now drop below the level needed to maintain the earth's population.
not enough babies wsj - representational

(Photo: Unsplash/ Representational)

A recent report by the Wall Street Journal says that the decreasing fertility rate observed around the world is set to reach a tipping point. While fertility rates have decreased from 5 in the 1960s to 2.4 in 2021, a new milestone is on the horizon as it could now drop below the level needed to maintain the earth's population. The report expressed fears that it might already have fallen below that level.
The fall in fertility rates, or the number of children per women on an average, can be attributed to a broad range of factors. For instance, increased access to education among women and a greater participation the labour market has meant that women now are more conscious about controlling their reproductive choices.
While in the pre-modern era it was common for a woman to have 4.5 to 7 children owing to the high mortality rates among children, better healthcare and advances in medical science has led to more babies surviving into adulthood. The increased cost of rearing children has also significantly contributed to the drop in fertility.
However, the WSJ report notes that world leaders are viewing this trend a major concern, with many fearing economic concern. Less babies means a decline in the workforce, which, in the long run, could have significant impact on the rate at which the world economy is progressing.
The report says that 'some estimates' paint a rather grim picture of global demographics, with the global replacement rate falling below 2.2 - the fertility rate required to ensure that population size from one generation to the next is maintained. The fertility rates in high income countries, such as the UK and the US, fell below the global replacement levels way back in 1970s. Now, the US has a fertility rate of 1.6, while South Korea ranks has the lowest at 0.75. The concern has stemmed from the trend catching on time with the developing nations, as well, especially with India and China - the two most populous countries in the world - where the fertility rates are 1.98 and 1.7, respectively.
On the other hand, the countries with the highest fertility rates in 2024 are Niger (6.8), Somalia (6.0), Democratic Republic of Congo (5.8), Mali (5.8) and Chad (5.6).
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