Global Fertility Rate Expected to Decline Significantly by the End of the Century: Study

A recent study by the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has revealed alarming projections about the future of global population dynamics. According to the study, which was published in The Lancet, the fertility rate in nearly half of all nations is already below the replacement level needed to sustain population size.

The research, based on extensive global data on births, deaths, and factors influencing fertility, predicts significant population decline by the end of the century. By 2050, it is estimated that the populations of three-quarters of all countries will be shrinking. By the year 2100, this trend is expected to affect 97 percent of countries and territories worldwide.

Only a handful of nations, including Samoa, Somalia, Tonga, Niger, Chad, and Tajikistan, are projected to maintain fertility rates above the replacement level of 2.1 births per female in 2100. Meanwhile, fertility rates are anticipated to continue rising in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, even as they decline in wealthier, aging nations.

Senior study author Stein Emil Vollset emphasized the profound social implications of these trends, noting that the world will be grappling with simultaneous “baby booms” and “baby busts” across different regions. IHME researcher Natalia Bhattacharjee echoed this sentiment, highlighting the immense impact on the global economy, international balance of power, and societal structures.

However, World Health Organization (WHO) experts cautioned against overly sensationalizing these projections, citing limitations in the models used, especially due to insufficient data from many developing nations. They stressed the importance of nuanced communication about the figures, balancing between acknowledging the challenges and recognizing potential benefits, such as environmental sustainability and food security.

Teresa Castro Martin, a Spanish National Research Council researcher, emphasized that these are just projections and highlighted disparities between the IHME study and UN predictions regarding the timeline for the global fertility rate to fall below replacement levels.

The study, an update of the IHME’s Global Burden of Disease study, underscores the need for proactive measures to address the complex demographic shifts expected in the coming decades. As societies adapt to these changes, strategic planning, innovation, and international cooperation will be crucial in navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by evolving population dynamics.