Health. Fertility is declining worldwide, study finds

Health.  Fertility is declining worldwide, study finds

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Fertility is insufficient to maintain the population as it is in the majority of countries, underlines a vast study published Thursday, warning of imbalances which promise to be more and more marked from one region of the world to another . “Fertility is declining across the world”, summarizes this work published in the scientific journal The Lancet, noting that more than half of countries are already observing a fertility rate that is too low to maintain the level of their population. And “in the future, fertility rates will continue to decline across the world,” he adds.

The study is based on figures from the Global Burden of Disease, a vast program financed by the American Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aimed at bringing together health data from most countries. The researchers not only assessed current fertility rates in these countries, but also sought to calculate future developments based on numerous predictive variables, such as education levels or infant mortality.

Most countries concerned

They conclude that by 2050, three-quarters of countries will have a fertility rate insufficient to maintain their population as it is. By 2100, most countries will be affected.

Researchers also predict that the population of poor countries will continue to increase for a long time, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, while it will decline in developed countries. This imbalance risks, according to them, having “considerable consequences on the economic and societal levels”.

This work takes place in a context where many countries are concerned about the evolution of their population, such as France, where President Emmanuel Macron called for “demographic rearmament”.

A study criticized, in particular by the WHO

However, the forecasts of the study of Lancet must be taken with caution, emphasize researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the same issue.

They criticize several choices of methodology, highlighting in particular the weakness of the data currently available in many poor countries. And, basically, “we must favor nuance and not sensationalism when we talk about the drop in fertility rates”, they believe.

They also emphasize that such a phenomenon can present advantages (environment, food, etc.), as well as disadvantages (retirement systems, employment, etc.). And especially note that there is “no obvious way” to act on it.

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