Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations put out a study that predicts the long-term societal issues that will come along with a global fall in fertility rates. According to BBC, the study establishes that fertility rates across the world have significantly diminished since the year 2017, and it predicts an even larger cut in the number of babies being born by the year 2100. Following this data, the researchers expect the planet's population to peak at 9.7 billion in 2064, before falling to 8 billion at the end of the century.
Professor Christopher Murray, a participant researcher of the study, concluded that "most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline." The experts claim that the underlying causes behind the drop in the number of new annual births reported worldwide can be attributed to an overall increase in women in education and work, as well as an improved access to birth-control methods. These have led women to choose to have fewer children. The findings of the study concluded that the most affected countries will include Japan and Italy, and their populations are expected to decrease by more than half before the century is over.
A worldwide fall in fertility rates is a problem, because as age structures shift, there will be more old people than young people. This will bring about complex social issues, such as a concern for who will pay taxes in a massively aged world, as well as a preoccupation with who will look after the elderly. Retirement might also look completely different by the time that the world's population massively declines.
Some countries have adapted to falling fertility rates by using migration to boost their population sizes. Although this has been proven successful, countries will be unable to turn to this strategy once the number of lives births is decreased on a large global scale. The experts strictly advice against "undoing the progress in women's education and access to contraception."
Interestingly, Africa's population is predicted to triple in size by the end of the century, with Nigeria expected to become the second most populous country in the globe. Academics at University College London stated that if these predictions are accurate, there will be a need for an immediate shift in global politics, as countries may be forced to turn to migration as the only resource for mitigating the long-lasting effects of reduced fertility rates.