Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last week about birth rates in the US. It’s not a new discovery that not only the US but globally developed countries are struggling with declining birth-rates (if you want the SSC take on global demographics, we wrote a piece last year that we can send you) however the data was stark. For a country’s population to maintain the status quo with regards birth rates, researchers believe there should be 2,100 babies born for every 1,000 women over their lifetime. Data in the US shows that in 2017, just 3.85mln babies were born, the lowest since 1987, which would equate to just 1,765 births per 1,000 women, 16% less than is needed. Only the states of Utah and South Dakota reached the required birth rate needed to sustain its population, in contrast to the District of Columbia, which had the lowest birth rate at just 1,421 births.
Although there were variations in the birth rate according to ethnicities, the overall picture does not look good. As senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire puts it ‘We knew the fertility rates were low, but this gives us a detailed, state-by-state, picture of how low they actually are’.
As mentioned, this problem is not isolated to the US, with research in November last year showing that globally the fertility rate has halved since 1950, although again there are big differences, with Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Cyprus, barely averaging one child per woman, whilst Niger in Africa the average is over 7. The Office for National Statistics put the birth rate here in the UK at 1.76.
Even the world largest population is not immune. In 2029 China’s population will total 1.44bln people, however, that will be the peak according to the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in a report, thereafter China will begin an ‘unstoppable’ decline. If current rates are maintained (China stopped its one-child policy a few years ago) by 2050 the population will be 1.36bln, and just 15 years later 1.17bln. By 2035 China’s elderly population will have reached 400mln. The UN estimates that India will overtake China by 2024 as the world’s most populous country (some reports say that it has already happened) and that by the end of this century, over 80% of the world’s population will live in either Asia or Africa.