Birthrates are falling globally. At the end of May, the Chinese Government announced that parents in China would now be permitted to have up to three children. This announcement came only five years after the stunning reversal of the 1980 one-child policy. China has experienced a fertility collapse. According to the latest census released in May, China is losing roughly 400,000 people every year. China still claims its population is growing, but even if these projections are taken at face value, the population decline previously projected to start by midcentury may now begin as early as 2030. This means China could lose between 600 and 700 million people from its population by 2100, about half of its total population today.
China’s population changes are not unique among the superpowers. According to the United States’ most recent census, the US birthrate has declined for six straight years and 19% since 2007 in total. Like China, the US birthrate is now well below replacement rate at 1.6. (China is now at 1.3.) For a country to naturally replace its population, its birthrate needs to be at least 2.1.
Japan’s population is predicted to fall from approximately 127 million people to a mere 53 million at the end of the century. Spain, Portugal and South Korea are predicting their populations falling to half of what they are now in that same timeframe. Italy’s birth rate has dropped to its lowest level since unification in 1861; together with a high Covid-19 death toll, this has caused a drop in population equivalent to a city the size of Florence. In France, birth numbers have dropped to their lowest since the Second World War.
These figures are striking taken in isolation, but represent an acceleration in a decades-long trend – one that will completely reconfigure the global economy, the international balance of power, and our intimate and personal lives. It will require fundamental social change to accommodate the diminishing size of the tax-paying, economically productive population, as well as the rising number of older people requiring pensions and social care. A paper published last year in the medical journal the Lancet predicted that the world’s population will peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, and then decline. By the end of the century, this figure will stand at 8.79 billion (two billion fewer than the UN had previously forecast), while 23 countries can expect their populations to have halved.
The continuation of female gendercide becomes particularly alarming in light of the globally declining birthrates. If girls’ are systematically eliminated, what will happen to a society that is biologically imbalanced. Female gendercide has serious societal repercussions – leading to gender instability, increase in crime and trafficking, perpetuation of illiteracy and poverty, and labor market economic distortions. We must be even more diligent about fighting against this practice in light of modern-day population decline.