Most people think that the world faces an overpopulation problem. But Phillip Longman argues otherwise in his book The Empty Cradle. He warns instead of a global baby bust. World population growth has fallen 40 percent since the late 1960s. The human population is expected to peak at nine billion by 2070, and many countries will see their population shrink long before that. Japan will have 49 retirees per 100 workers as early as 2005.
Falling birthrates mainly account for these declines. Several factors contribute to the falling birthrates. Around the world, more women are entering the workforce, and young people delay raising a family in order to attain the higher levels of education needed to compete in a global marketplace. However, a major reason for falling birthrates is the high cost of raising a middle-class child in an industrialized country---a cost estimated at more than $200,000 (exclusive of college tuition) in the United States.
As developing countries become more industrialized and urban, they too face a high cost of raising children. In Mexico, where fertility rates have declined precipitously, the population is aging five times faster than it is in the United States. By 2050, Algeria could well see its average age increase from 21.7 years to 40 years. One of the greatest declines in population growth is occurring in China, where government policy has long supported one child per family. It predicted that 60 percent of China's population could be over 60 years old by midcentury.
A nation may experience a "demographic dividend" when birthrates first fall. More working-age citizens support fewer children, freeing up money for consumption and investment. Many attribute the recent boom markets in Asia, such as China and South Korea, to this demographic dividend. However, as population growth continues to slow, the nation faces the problem of supporting older populations. For example, by 2040, Germany's public spending on pensions will exceed...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document