Reading my Inter Press Service RSS feed this evening, I came across Joseph Chamie's essay arguing that, on current trends, the entire world may shift to below-replacement fertility in a surprisingly short time. At the end of his analysis, he concludes that this trend is likely to spread worldwide.
According to United Nations medium-variant population projections, by mid-century the number of countries with below replacement fertility is expected to nearly double, reaching 139 countries. Together those countries will account for 75 percent of the world’s population at that time.
Some of the populous countries expected to fall below the replacement fertility level by 2050 include Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. Looking further into the future, below replacement fertility is expected in 184 countries by the end of the century, with the global fertility rate falling below two births per woman.
It is certainly difficult to imagine rapid transitions to low fertility in today’s high-fertility countries, such as Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, where average rates are more than six births per woman. However, rapid transitions from high to low fertility levels have happened in diverse social, economic and political settings.
With social and economic development, including those forces favouring low fertility, and the changing lifestyles of women and men, the transition to below replacement fertility in nearly all the remaining countries with high birth rates may well occur in the coming decades of the 21st century.
A question to our readers: Do you think this is plausible? What do you think this world would look like?