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The world faces a low-fertility future that will 'completely reconfigure' the global economy

Pregnant woman uses baby tracker app on smartphone to monitor her baby's growth and development throughout the pregnancy journey - stock photo.
Pregnant woman uses baby tracker app on smartphone to monitor her baby's growth and development throughout the pregnancy journey - stock photo.AsiaVision
  • 97% of countries will fall below replacement level fertility rates by the end of the century, according to a new study.

  • Shrinking fertility rates pose economic challenges of workforces shrinking and aging populations.

  • Elon Musk has voiced concern about what he regards as impending "population collapse."

By 2100, over 97% of countries will have fertility rates below the replacement level, a Lancet study forecasts.

With the fertility rates expected to fall below the necessary replacement level to sustain population size over time, experts warn we are approaching a "demographically divided world."

The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine, projects significant economic challenges for many middle- and high-income nations grappling with a shrinking workforce and the escalating demands of aging populations.

By 2050, 76% of countries and territories are projected to dip below replacement-level fertility rates, a figure expected to surge to 97% by the century's end.

Per the study, from 1950 to 2021, the global total fertility rate dropped by over half, while annual live births peaked in 2016 and have since declined.

A seismic shift in global birth patterns indicates that over half of all live births are expected to occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries by 2100.

Elon Musk has voiced concern about what he regards as impending "population collapse." He has said humankind needs to at least "at least maintain our numbers" while describing dwindling population rates as a "bigger risk" to civilization than climate change.

Low-income regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, are slated to witness a substantial increase in their share of global live births.

The study calls for tailored policy interventions at both national and global levels to bolster access to modern contraceptives, and education could curb exponential birth rates. Conversely, pro-natal policies may prevent some countries from dropping to extremely low fertility levels.

A crowded street in New York City
NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 16: People walk on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue on September 16, 2023 in New York City, United States.Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

There is concern that declining populations might lead to measures limiting reproductive rights.

National governments must plan for threats to economies, food security, health, and geopolitical security due to demographic changes.

Fertility rates have halved globally over the past 70 years, with only six countries expected to have fertility rates above replacement level in 2100.

Almost every country's population is expected to decrease by the end of the century.

There is concern that declining populations might lead to measures limiting reproductive rights.

As nations grapple with these projections, the study highlights the critical role of women's rights and reproductive health initiatives in shaping future demographic landscapes. The report also underscores the pressing need for international cooperation and innovative solutions to ensure sustainable development in an evolving world.

A demographer and a geographer told Business Insider that when the population shrinks it'll be gradual.

Read the original article on Business Insider