People with brightly colored clothes selling and buying goods in a street market in Osogbo, Nigeria at dusk.
Jorge Fernández | LightRocket via Getty Images
Falling birth rates will likely mean that almost every country will have a shrinking population by the end of the century, according to a new study that triggers “major shifts”
A new report in The Lancet, published on Tuesday, predicts that the world’s population will peak at 9.7 billion by 2064. The number of people around the world is expected to decrease to 8.8 billion by 2100.
The analysis suggests that improvements in access to modern contraception and in the education of girls and women could support a “widespread” and “sustained” decline in global fertility.
This means that 183 out of 195 countries on the planet without a liberal immigration policy will not be able to maintain the current population by the end of the century.
The population in 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain, is forecast to decline by more than half in their respective populations, while a further 34 countries, including China, are expected to decline more than 25%.
In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa’s population is expected to triple over the century, according to a survey from 1.03 billion in 2017 to 3.07 billion in 2100.
North Africa and the Middle East are the only other regions where a larger population is forecast in 2100 compared to 2017.
“This important research shows a future for which we urgently need to plan,” said Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, in a press release.
“It provides a vision for radical changes in geopolitical power, questions myths about immigration, and highlights the importance of protecting and strengthening women’s sexual and reproductive rights.”
“Africa and the Arab world will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will step down in their influence,” continued Horton. “By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the United States as the dominant powers. This will really be a new world to prepare for today.”
Migration becomes a “necessity”
The study, which uses data from the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, also warns of major changes in the global age structure.
It is expected that people over 80 years old by 2100 will outnumber the under 5 year olds by two to one as fertility drops and life expectancy increases worldwide.
However, the study predicted a 41% drop in the number of children under the age of 5 to 401 million in 2100 compared to 681 million in 2017. In the meantime, the number of over-80s will increase six-fold to 866 million from 141 million.
Falling working age populations could dramatically shift the size of economies, the study said. China is to replace the United States with the world’s largest gross domestic product (GDP) by 2035.
The workers will be working on February 26, 2020 in a vehicle chair manufacturing factory in Lintong District in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
Xinhua | Liu Xiao | Getty Images
The US is expected to take the top spot again by 2098 if immigration continues to support the country’s workforce and China will see a rapid population decline from 2050.
India is considered to be one of the few, if only, major powers in Asia that will protect the working-age population over the course of the century.
As a result, the GDP ranking is forecast to rise from seventh to third place. At the same time, sub-Saharan Africa is touted as “an increasingly powerful continent on the geopolitical stage with an increasing population”.
Nigeria is highlighted as it is expected to be the only country among the 10 most populous countries in the world where the working age population will grow by 2100, which will support rapid economic growth as it ranks 23rd in the global GDP rankings nine ranks in 2017.
Britain, Germany and France are expected to remain in the top 10 of the world’s largest GDP at the turn of the century, while Italy and Spain are expected to fall 25th and 28th, respectively, due to a much larger population decline.
University College London professor Ibrahim Abubakar, who was not involved in the research, said that if the results of the study were “even reasonably accurate,” migration would become “a necessity for all nations and not an option.”
“The positive effects of migration on health and the economy are known worldwide. We have a choice of improving health and prosperity by allowing planned population movements, or of ending up with a lower class of imported workers and unstable societies,” he added .