Consequences of Declining Fertility

Consequences of Declining Fertility

As per the World Population Prospects (WPP) report 2022, the world's population will surpass 8 billion on November 15, 2022, but then again, the world's low fertility rates will face several issues in the future.

Consequences of Declining Fertility

Background - 

As per the World Population Prospects (WPP) report 2022, the world's population will surpass 8 billion on November 15, 2022, but then again, the world's low fertility rates will face several issues in the future.


  • Forewarning that the world population would reach 8.5 billion by 2030, average global fertility has been steadily dropping over the last 70 years.
  • According to the WPP research, the average number of children per woman in the reproductive age group has decreased by 50% globally, from five children per woman in 1951 to 2.4 children in 2020.

Fertility rate at replacement level:

  • Replacement-level fertility is a total fertility rate of roughly 2.1 children per woman.
  • TFR of less than 2.1 children per woman shows that a generation is not generating enough offspring to replace itself, eventually decreasing the population.
  • The total fertility rate (TFR) is the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime if she were subject to the population's average age-specific fertility rate.
  • The fifth phase of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) study shows that India's total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21, demonstrating considerable success in population control strategies.

Global demographic change is happening faster than expected:

  • The sharp reduction in births per woman is ascribed to a faster demographic shift in poorer nations than in wealthy ones.
  • According to the WPP Report, the worldwide fertility rate has decreased from three in 1990 to 2.3 in 2021.
  • Britain took 130 years to reduce its reproduction rate from five per woman in 1800 to two in 1930, whereas South Korea took only 20 years.
  • Most modern economies now have fertility rates lower than the replacement rate of 2.1, with South Korea having the lowest at 1.05 children per woman.
  • Sub-Saharan African nations are predicted to contribute more than half of the population increase after 2050 and continue to expand until 2100.

What is the Indian scenario?

  • According to the most recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), India's fertility rate declined to 2.0 in 2021, a 10% drop in only five years.
  • Despite the government initiating the world's first family planning programme in 1952, it took 25 years to reduce the fertility rate from 6.0 at independence to 5.0 now.
  • It fell to four in the 1990s, when Kerala became the first state in India to have a fertility rate lower than the replacement level.
  • Nowadays, most states have fertility rates below 2.1, and just five states have fertility rates over the replacement rate, according to the NFHS 2021: Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9), Uttar Pradesh (2.4), Jharkhand (2.3), and Manipur (2.2).
  • The consistent decline in fertility rates can be ascribed to the following:
  • Contraception usage has increased.
  • More years of average education.
  • Improved healthcare facilities.
  • Women's average marriage age is rising.

Economic advantages of falling fertility include:

  • Lower fertility rates are both a cause and a result of economic progress.
  • Lower fertility has a favourable influence on women's education, reducing future generations' fertility.
  • Fertility falls, and income grows as infrastructure, health care, and education improve.
  • During the early years of low fertility, the working-age population outnumbers the dependent population, resulting in more significant economic revenue, investment, and savings.
  • Reduced demand for land, water, and other resources benefit the environment.

The following are the economic consequences of decreased fertility:

  • Japan and South Korea were early adopters of declining fertility rates in the early 2000s and are now experiencing a labour-force shortage.
  • Since the 1990s, an increasing reliance ratio has resulted in near-zero GDP growth.
  • They are also confronted with fiscal issues due to increased social security payments.
  • To compensate for the declining working population, an influx of immigrants from countries with higher population growth may pose additional challenges, such as class and social conflicts.
  • A study titled "The End of Economic Growth?" A Stanford economist argues in "Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population" that decreased fertility might reduce humanity's creative ability.
  • The justification for this is the requirement for ideas in technological progress and productivity boosts that people can achieve rather than Machines or AI.
  • It is predicted that by 2100, approximately 40% of the population will be elderly.
  • The Great Demographic Reversal: Aging Societies, Falling Inequality, and Inflation is a book. According to Revival, a scarcity of labour supply will raise wages and inflation.
  • A high reliance ratio puts additional strain on government funds, negatively impacting public finance.

Other consequences of reduced fertility include -

Military strength is dwindling:

  • Population reduction will reduce the military-age population and hence military power.

Innovation is declining:

  • A declining population also reduces the rate of innovation because younger employees and entrepreneurs often drive change.

Problems with funding entitlement programmes:

  • Less working-age population means less government tax revenue and fewer social security services for the elderly.
  • End-of-life care for the elderly will face a crisis due to a lack of caretakers.

How should we deal with declining fertility?

  • Mitigation can be mitigated by implementing scientific and long-term policies.
  • Reforms aimed at increasing labour market flexibility
  • It would encourage working women to have more children while encouraging non-working moms to enter the labour force.
  • Increasing fertility through different legislative initiatives, such as Germany's liberal labour laws, allow for more extended parental leave and perks.
  • Denmark provides state-funded IVF for women under 40, while Hungary just nationalized IVF centres.
  • Monthly payments and other monetary advantages are provided in Poland and Russia.

The Future Perspectives:

  • The demographic dividend is reaping advantages across countries, but the below-replacement-level birth rate means a smaller payoff window than predicted.
  • Although India's working-age population will continue to expand for several decades, fertility decreases must be monitored.
  • Through liberal labour reforms, India can maintain sustained labour supply and production despite decreasing fertility.
  • Encourage more female labour-force participation.
  • A greater emphasis on diet and health.

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