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Birth dearth?

By Murray Bourne, 16 Dec 2004

The local Singapore paper ran an article about the rapid drop in fertility rates over the last decade being "bad news" for the world. The article argued that since many countries have dropped below the magic 2.1 fertility rate (under which the population will not sustain itself), then we would become extinct.

They also rubbished the "small is beautiful humbug of the 1960s and 1970s". But things were critical in the 1960s with a huge post-war baby boom which peaked in 1960.

I wouldn't worry about the world population dropping anytime soon. We are still increasing at about 4 people per second and the top contributors to population growth (except China) do not seem to be making plans to do anything about it. Following are the growth figures in millions of people per year:

India 13.4
China 7.7
Pakistan 3.5
Nigeria 2.7
United States 2.9
Indonesia 2.4

(Source: Based on UN data)
See also animation showing current population at Interactive Mathematics.

Singapore, Japan, Australia are all worried about their low fertility rates and greying population. Well, the world is not short of people - immigration (or adoption of unwanted children) has to be considered. [Japan hates the thought of immigration of course - it is a very homogeneous population...]

But I say - let the population drop and remove the unsustainable pressures on air, water and land resources. Now, there's a pleasant thought.

See the 4 Comments below.

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