The population implosion

The population isn't exploding, it's imploding. In fact, there is a catastrophic population shrinkage. In many parts of the world, there aren't nearly enough babies, says Joel Garreau in the October issue of Smithsonian.

Population shrinkage is happening in Europe, Russia, Japan, Canada, much of East Asia, even China. It has potentially dire consequences for anyone wishing to retire and live off the goods and services of the younger generation.

According to Garreau:

  • Sometime in October, the United States population will reach 300 million – most of that growth comes from immigration.

  • For a population to replace itself, every couple has to produce about 2.1 children, but the United States falls just short of that.

  • Italy and Spain are at 1.3 per cent, and Hong Kong and Macau are 0.96 and 0.84.

  • Russia has both a baby shortage and a strangely sick population.

  • China's draconian methods of population control have created a situation in which it will soon have a disproportionate number of older citizens; many won't have a child to take care of them, and they'll have to work in the fields to the end of their days.

    Few demographers ever dreamed that in the absence of war, famine and pestilence – in fact, as a result of urbanisation, development and education – birth rates would drop so dramatically. No one knows where the bottom is. Keep this up, and eventually your civilisation will disappear, says Garreau.

    Source: Joel Achenbach, The Population Implosion, Washington Post, September 27, 2006.

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    For more on International Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 10 October 2006
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