Dire population prediction suggests 'overpopulation' fear is old news

Dire population prediction suggests 'overpopulation' fear is old news

Dire population prediction suggests 'overpopulation' fear is old news

A new study on the world’s declining population says most of the planet is nearing a peak in birth rates that will devastate most of society by the end of the century.

The latest population research, published in The Lancet, studies birth rates from 1950 through 2021. With fertility rates dropping globally, the study predicts a major population crisis within a half-century if birth rates continue to slide, including birth rates in the United States.  

Laura Echevarria, of the National Right to Life Committee, points out there has been a panic over human overpopulation going back decades. 

“And, instead, we're seeing the opposite result,” she says. “That instead of seeing people having children, and maintaining replacement rates, we're seeing such a drop-off.”

The frightful forecast of an overpopulated planet, which dates back to the 1960s, predicted a scarcity of basic resources such as food and water. A leading pioneer of that movement is biologist Paul Ehrlich, whose book The Population Bomb was published in 1968. 

Compare that prediction to The Lancet article’s conclusion: By 2100, 95% of the world’s countries will dip below replacement levels, which is 2.1 births per person. That lack of newborn babies means an aging population without a workforce to replace them.  

Echevarria, Laura (NRLC) Echevarria

That dire prediction is already coming true across Europe, where the continent has failed to hit the 2.1 replacement rate since the 1980s. In 2021, the replacement rate was 1.53 in Western Europe and 1.38 in Eastern Europe, according to a related story by Euronews Health. 

Echevarria says population numbers remain steady in African nations and in South American nations, where large families are celebrated and children are appreciated.

"And that growth," she says, "is actually keeping worldwide numbers from going down even further, but we will see [population decline] in the future."