Unprecedented population reversal
by Shannon Roberts
Late last week Joseph Chamie, an independent consulting demographer and a former director of the United Nations Population Division, wrote an interesting opinion piece entitled ‘The historic reversal of populations’.
The “historic reversal” to which Chamie refers is the demographic turning point when children in a population become fewer than its elderly. He writes:
Throughout human history children were substantially more numerous than the elderly. Even a half century ago, the world’s population of 3.3 billion had on average more than seven children under 15 years of age for each elderly person aged 65 and over. Africa’s population in 1965 topped other major regions with more than 14 children per elderly person, followed by Asia and Latin America with more than 11 children per elderly person and Europe and Northern America at around 3 children per elderly person.
The following United Nations Population Division Table summarises the reversal, with Italy being the first country to have experienced the change in 1995 and almost every country in the world to follow suit in the coming years:
Thus the change is a momentous one which brings with it social, political and economic change, much of it hard to solve. The cause? Chamie summarises it succinctly:
The two key factors bringing about the Historic Reversal of population age structures are declining fertility rates and rising life expectancies. In every corner of the world, women are bearing fewer children than in the past. Whereas the average global fertility rate in 1965 was five births per woman, today it has fallen to half that level, with 75 countries or close to half the world’s population experiencing rates below the replacement level of about two births per woman.
Read more: www.mercatornet.com