Summary: After decades of hysteria about overpopulation, people slowly realize that fertility has crashed far below replacement level in the developed world (and falling fast in most emerging nations). Japan’s leading the way to a world with a far lower population, and warning that the transition to this better world might be painful. But the first expressions of this in the popular media are with humor (only later will the the majority start to worry).
No one has found out how to help Denmark’s falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win.
The collapse in fertility rates is another one of these unexpected phenomena shaping our world that have been described on this website. The public is just now starting to see this coming, and does not yet understand the problems it will bring. So the first public treatment of it is as humor. They will laugh less when they learn more about its effects over the next few generations.
Experts don’t well understand its causes, and have only ideas about effective public policy responses. But they understand its seriousness. Nobody knows how far fertility will fall. Japan shows that the “floor” is lower than anyone expected.
We’re on our way to a far better world, one with a much smaller population. The rod there will be rocky unless we prepare for it. More about this important topic coming on Monday.
For More Information
Wikipedia has an excellent entry on sub-replacement rates of fertility. For details about the data and implications see the population website of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, especially this summary article.
See the posts at the FM reference page about Demographics., with links to many useful articles. Also see these posts:
- From the 3rd century BC, Polybius warns us about demographic collapse, 11 June 2008
- Must our population always grow to ensure prosperity?, 25 November 2013