Falling Fertility Rate “Cause for Celebration”

The previous focus on "boosting" populations is outdated and potentially harmful to women.

Global population levels are growing while fertility rates fall.
Getty Images/Caiaimage

The worldwide decline in fertility rates is actually a good thing, according to a population expert.

On average, women now have about 2.4 babies in a lifetime, according to a measure known as total fertility rate (TFR). While that number is much higher, such as in Niger, in almost half of all the world’s countries, the average is below two, The Guardian reported.

Previously, a “baby bust” was seen as a depopulation disaster, but now one expert is advising countries to see a decline as a “cause for celebration.”

“This idea that you need lots and lots of people to defend your country and to grow your country economically, that is really old thinking,” former director of the Royal Institution and population change expert Sarah Harper said. “What we should be saying is no, [a declining total fertility rate] is actually really good because we were terrified 25 years ago that maximum world population was going to be 24 billion.”

Drivers for these declines include huge strides in family planning and women’s education — with girls staying at school and entering the workforce — allowing women to delay childbearing and choose how many children to have — if any.

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