Global Demographics Favor U.S. Business

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Global Demographics Favor U.S. Business

If the population explosion advocates of the 1970s had been right, the number of people in the world would have reached 9 billion in 2000. In reality, by mid-2011, the population had reached only 7 billion, and growth continues to slow. In fact, the most reliable estimates now suggest that the world's population will peak at around 9 billion in 2050, and head downward from there.

Fewer by Ben J. Wattenbert

Fewer by Ben J. Wattenbert

Going forward, the birth rate is expected to fall even faster than it has over the past 40 years. According to projections from the UN's World Population Prospects, populations in 50 of the world's countries will actually shrink between now and 2050.1 Consider the following examples:

  • During the next 44 years, Russia's population will drop by 22 percent. Ukraine will lose almost half its population, with a decline of 43 percent.2
  • In China, according to demographer Philip Longman, author of The Empty Cradle,3 each generation after 2050 will be 20 to 30 percent smaller than the preceding one.
  • In the book Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future,4 Ben Wattenberg writes that Europe is now losing 700,000 people each year, and will lose 3 million or more each year by 2050.

In some developing countries, birth rates are still above the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. That's why nearly all of the population growth between now and 2050 is projected to take place in these less-developed regions. Yet, even in a country like Indonesia, the fertility rate is now only 2.15 births per woman.

There are many reasons for this drop in birth rates. One is that when a country becomes wealthier, its birth rate drops. As people become more affluent and more educated, they choose smaller families.

A more insidious reason is that some countries, reacting to the perceived threat of over-population, instituted policies that limited the size of families. In China, for example, the limit was one child per family. This policy, coupled with a cultural preference for boys, has already led China to abort more females than the entire female population of the U...

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