In 1968, Paul Ehrlich, an entomologist at Stanford University, wrote a book that incited a worldwide fear of overpopulation. The Population Bomb, which became a best-seller, controversially argued that unless population growth was tackled, the world would face mass starvation, societal upheaval and environmental deterioration. Yet over half a century later, we’re starting to worry more about population decline.
Recent data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation (IHME) has led to much of the media reporting concerns of a “jaw-dropping” crash in children born worldwide. The data – published in The Lancet – projected that the global population would peak at 9.7 billion around 2064 and then fall to 8.8 billion by 2100. It also claimed that by the end of the century, 183 out of 195 countries would have fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1 (the number of babies each woman needs to have on average for the country’s population to remain stable).