Home Australia Terrifying threat of ‘underpopulation’ is laid bare as it’s revealed how 75% of nations are facing baby busts by 2050 and the West will be left ‘reliant on migrants’ – triggering ‘staggering social change’

Terrifying threat of ‘underpopulation’ is laid bare as it’s revealed how 75% of nations are facing baby busts by 2050 and the West will be left ‘reliant on migrants’ – triggering ‘staggering social change’

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Terrifying threat of 'underpopulation' is laid bare as it's revealed how 75% of nations are facing baby busts by 2050 and the West will be left 'reliant on migrants' - triggering 'staggering social change'

Around the world, women are having fewer children on average than previous generations.

This trend, which results in increased access to education and contraception, more women in employment and a change in attitudes towards having children, is expected to lead to a decrease in the population of dozens of countries by 2100.

Dr Jennifer Sciubba, author of 8 Billion and Counting: How Sex, Death and Migration Shape Our World, told MailOnline that people are choosing to have smaller families and that change “is permanent”.

“So it is wise to focus on this new reality rather than trying to change it,” she said.

Sex education and contraception

Improved education and access to contraception is one of the reasons for the decline in global fertility rates.

Education around pregnancy and contraception has grown, with sex education classes beginning in the United States in the 1970s and becoming compulsory in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.

“There’s an old adage that ‘education is the best contraception’ and I think that’s relevant” to explaining falling birth rates, said Professor Allan Pacey, an andrologist at the University of Sheffield and former President of the British Fertility Society.

Elina Pradhan, a senior health specialist at the World Bank, suggests that more educated women choose to have fewer children because they fear earning less when they take leave before and after childbirth.

In the UK, three in 10 mothers and one in 20 fathers say they have had to reduce their working hours due to childcare, according to ONS data.

They may also be more exposed to different ideas about family sizes at school and the connections they make during their studies, encouraging them to think more critically about the number of children they want , she said.

And more educated women might know more about prenatal care and child health and might have better access to health care, Ms. Pradhan added.

Professor Jonathan Portes, an economist at King’s College London, said women’s increased control over their own fertility means “households, and women in particular, want and are able to have fewer children”.

More and more women are entering the workforce

There are more women in the workforce today than 50 years ago – 72 compared to 52 percent – ​​which has helped halve the global fertility rate over the same period.

Professor Portes also noted that the falling birth rate could also be due to the structure of labor and housing markets, costly child care and gender roles that make it difficult for many women to balance their career aspirations. and start a family.

The UK government has “implemented the most anti-family policies of any government in living memory” by cutting services that support families, as well as cutting benefits that “deliberately punish low-income families with children,” he added.

As more women enter the workforce, the age at which they start a family has been pushed back. ONS data shows the most common age for women born in 1949 to give birth was 22. But women born in 1975 were more likely to have children by age 31.

Another sign that late childbearing is on the rise is that half of women born in 1990, the most recent cohort to reach age 30, remained childless by age 30 – the highest rate on record.

Women repeatedly cite work-related reasons for delaying pregnancy, with surveys revealing that most women want to move up the career ladder before conceiving.

However, this decision could lead to women having fewer children than expected. In the 1990s, only 6,700 cycles of IVF – a technique intended to help people with fertility problems have babies – were carried out each year in the UK. But that figure jumped to more than 69,000 in 2019, suggesting more women are struggling to conceive naturally.

Decreased sperm count

Reproductive experts have also sounded the alarm that biological factors, such as declining sperm counts and changes in sexual development, could “threaten human survival.”

Dr. Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, is the author of a groundbreaking 2017 study that finds that global sperm counts have fallen by more than half over the past four decades .

She warned that “chemicals everywhere”, such as phthalates found in toiletries, food packaging and children’s toys, are to blame. The chemicals cause a hormonal imbalance that can trigger “reproductive havoc,” she said.

Factors such as smoking and marijuana use and increasing obesity rates may also play a role, Dr. Swan said.

Studies have also highlighted that air pollution lowers fertility rates, suggesting that it triggers inflammation that can damage egg and sperm production.

However, Professor Pacey, an expert in sperm quality and fertility, said: “I really don’t think changes in sperm quality are responsible for falling birth rates.

“I actually don’t believe the current evidence that sperm quality has declined.”

He said: “I think a much bigger problem with falling birth rates is that: (a) people are choosing to have fewer children; and (b) they wait until they are older to have them.

Fear of giving birth to children

Choosing not to have children is cited by some scientists as the best thing a person can do for the planet, compared to reducing energy consumption, travel, and making food choices based on their carbon footprint.

Scientists at Oregon State University have calculated that each child adds about 9,441 tons of carbon dioxide to a woman’s “carbon legacy.” Each ton is equivalent to going around the circumference of the world.

Experts say the data discourages climate-conscious people from having babies, while others refuse to have children because of fears they will grow up worldwide.

Dr Britt Wray, a human and planetary health researcher at Stanford University, said falling fertility rates were due to “fear of a damaged future due to climate change”.

She is one of the authors of a Lancet study of 10,000 volunteers, which revealed that four in ten young people fear giving birth to their children because of climate concerns.

Professor David Coleman, emeritus professor of demography at the University of Oxford, told MailOnline that people’s decision not to have children is ‘understandable’ due to poor conditions, such as climate change.

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