Global birthrates are going down, but because of political and cultural reasons that are against contraception the global birth rate will continue to rise. The rate will largely be determined by a new generation of people who are in their prime fertile years.
Strangely and paradoxically, the world’s average birthrate has slowly been falling for decades, yet what is happening is something scientists call population momentum. Population momentum occurs because of the combination of unchecked fertility in the past along with reduced child mortality. More births are living to term and childbearing rates yield large results. So with population momentum, birth rates cannot possibly be reduced at a very quick rate. The earliest the population growth would begin to slow is around 2075.
The current generation of fertile people is the largest generation in history. There are 3 billion people in the world under the age of 25. Of that 3 billion, 1.2 billion of them are just entering the beginning of their reproductive life cycle. Even if this generation decides collectively to have less children and therefore smaller families than their immediate ancestors, the world’s population will continue to grow. Right now the world’s population stands at 7 billion. While the choice to have children is very personal, the decision for young people will have consequences far beyond their families and communities.
By 2050 the United Nations projects that the world population will reach 9.3 billion. This would be the equivalent of adding another India AND China to the world. But if the new generation of fertile people chooses to have less children and the birthrate would decrease from 2.5 children per woman to 2.1 If the new generation of fertile people chooses to continue to have as any children as previous generations the population is expected to reach 11 billion by midcentury, which is the equivalent of adding 3 Chinas to the world.
Either way scientists believe that living conditions are likely to be worse for humanity as a whole. Water, food, and arable land will become scarcer, cities will become more crowded, and hunger will become more widespread. Besides momentum, the poorest parts of the world continue to have high fertility rates because of tradition, religion and the inferior status of women, who have no access to contraception.
The new generation of Indians who are in the prime age of fertility will largely determine much of what happens. With a population of a billion two hundred million will largely determine the future of the global birth rate. India has a poverty rate of 32.7 percent, meaning that 32.7 percent of the population lives below $1.25 a day. The literacy rate is 68.3 percent. Because of population momentum India’s population will continue to grow, will surpass China’s population, and will not even peak until 2060, at which time it could begin to potentially slow.
To support the efforts of mitigating climate change and the suffering and misery of many, please sign this petition to the Rio 20, which advocates for education on behalf of climate change and family planning. Globally 1 in 8 people live in a slum and by midcentury it could be more than 9 billion, raising the ratio to 1 in 3. Higher temperatures and violent weather casued by climate change will come to displace masses of people and by 2050 the United Nations predicts that number could be as high as 200 million climate change refugees, forced to leave their land because of droughts or flooding. Appropriately so, the petition to the Rio 20 is called “The Time is Now.”
Photo credit: census.gov/population/international/data/idb/images/worldpop.png