Relatively recently, scientists around the world have sounded the alarm - the planet is threatened with overpopulation, we are waiting for a global demographic boom. The resources on Earth are not endless, besides, they are already in short supply. In addition, environmental pollution, deforestation, climate change - all this will sooner or later lead to a lack of food, drinking water and environmental degradation. It seemed that a demographic catastrophe could not be avoided. But today another problem is acute - the Earth's population is shrinking and aging. Let's see why this happens and why it is bad.
What led to the decline in population?
Scientists from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Seattle are confident that by the middle of the 21st century, the world's population will reach its maximum, and then begin to decline. Thus, according to forecasts, by 2064 the population of the Earth will be about 9.6 billion. But by the end of the century it will drop to 8.8 billion. By 2100, the birth rate will fall so much that in 183 out of 195 countries it will be insufficient for population growth.
Demographers calculated that the birth rate (the number of children per woman) is falling. For comparison: in 1950, this ratio was 4.7, and in 2017 it fell to 2.4. If this ratio falls below 2.1, then the population will begin to decline. Scientists predict that by 2100 the birth rate will drop to 1.7.
However, fertility rates are already falling across the world. This happens even in places where they were relatively high, for example, in some African countries. And by 2050, in India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and the Middle East the situation will also begin to decline.
Moreover, over the past half century, the age of the population, the duration and standard of living have increased sharply. Women gained access to education and career opportunities, and contraception became widespread. All these changes ultimately led to the fact that the couple decides to give birth to one child, not two or three. The age of women in labor has also changed: the first-born at 30 has become the norm, and in some countries, such as the United States, women are increasingly giving birth to their first child at 40 and later. Now the woman herself decides when and how many children to give birth to.
What is the threat?
The population will age and die. Under these conditions, people will later retire, which will lead to an increase in mortality. Taxes on health care and pensions will increase. Accordingly, people will have to work harder. And still, most of the money will go to taxes and pension funds.
As of today, such a natural regulator of the population size as a pandemic has played a role. The coronavirus has exacerbated the long-term decline in fertility rates.
How can this be prevented?
As practice shows, attempts to control the birth rate actually lead to nothing. The one-child policy in China showed that fertility there did not differ much from that of other countries in East Asia. And after its abolition, one child in China became the norm. France tried to stimulate the birth rate with financial incentives, but they did not significantly affect the indicators.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that one of the effective ways to combat population decline can be a policy of integrating migrants into society. But not every country supports such a policy.
What is the situation in Ukraine?
Meanwhile, Ukraine has come close to a demographic crisis.
According to the latest data from the State Statistics Service, the population of Ukraine is 41.4 million, last year this figure was at the level of 41.7 million. Moreover, in this case, one of the main reasons for this reduction is the death rate from coronavirus, which rose sharply during the year.
But the coronavirus is far from the only and not the main reason for the decline in the population in recent years. The problem of migration is very acute in Ukraine - more leave the country than return. In addition, the birth rate is falling, and the death rate is rising. Compared to 2015, in the first 4 months of 2021, the birth rate fell by 34%.
That is, the population of Ukraine is already rapidly aging, the mortality rate is growing. According to the forecasts of Ukrainian demographers, by 2050 the country's population may decline to 30 million, mostly of elderly people, which, in turn, will negatively affect the economic situation.
At the same time, Ukrainian scientists are confident that the problem needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner: to stimulate the birth rate financially and to raise the standard of living, to create favorable working conditions. And then, by 2050, the catastrophe will be averted.