97% of countries will see a drop in fertility rates by 2100, says study

A new study shows that by 2050, more than three-quarters of countries will not have high enough fertility rates to sustain their population size over time.

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By 2100, this number will increase to 97% of countries. The estimates were published this Wednesday (20), in the renowned scientific journal The Lancet.

On the other hand, low-income countries, mainly in western and eastern Sub-Saharan Africa, will have high fertility rates, which should continue to drive population growth in these places throughout the century.

According to the study, this demographic division in the world could have enormous consequences for economies and societies.

With this, the research presents estimates from the Global Burden of Disease, Injury and Risk Factors (GBD) Study 2021, a global survey led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. These estimates show now and future regional, national, and global trends in fertility and living natives.

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In general, countries need to have a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1 children per person to sustain long-term generational population replacement. The TFR of a population is obtained through the average number of children born to a woman throughout her life.

According to the study, the number of countries and territories with an unsustainable total fertility rate for population replacement will reach 198, representing 97% of the world’s nations and territories.

This means that in these places, populations will decline unless low fertility is compensated by effective immigration or policies that offer greater support to parents.

For the study authors, these new forecasts reinforce the challenges to economic growth in middle- and high-income countries, with a shrinking workforce and an increasing burden on health and social security systems from an aging population.