The New York Times Discovers the World’s Coming Population Collapse

You know it’s bad when even leftist publications like The New York Times are now sounding the alarm about the world’s coming population collapse.

In a recently published op-ed for The Times, Dr. Dean Spears, an economist at the University of Texas, Austin, and a research affiliate at its Population Research Center, is warning about the bleak future of the world.

“Most people now live in countries where two or fewer children are born for every two adults,” Spears writes.

“If all people in the United States today lived through their reproductive years and had babies at an average pace, then it would add up to about 1.66 births per woman. In Europe, that number is 1.5; in East Asia, 1.2; in Latin America, 1.9,” he notes, adding,

Any worldwide average of fewer than two children per two adults means our population shrinks and in the long run each new generation is smaller than the one before.

For many readers of The New York Times, this may be the first they’ve ever heard about the problem of the world’s declining fertility rate. Of note, readers of the Daily Citizen would have learned about this months ago here, here, here, here, here and here.

In just the last 50 years, the Total Fertility Rate, which measures the average number of children per woman globally, has halved from 4.68 to 2.3. It will soon fall below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Photo Credit: Our World in Data

As a result, based on the United Nations’ prediction for the human population, the global population will begin to decline starting in 2085.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Of note, many reputable demographers believe the UN paints a much too rosy picture. They argue that the world’s population decline will begin sooner, and be far steeper, than the UN even predicts.

For example, researchers Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson write in their book Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, “More likely … the planet’s population will peak at around nine billion sometime between 2040 and 2060, and then start to decline.”

“Once that decline begins, it will never end,” they warn, adding,

We do not face the challenge of a population bomb but of a population bust – a relentless, generation-after-generation culling of the human herd.

Nothing like this has ever happened before.

While some leftists and climate alarmists may cheer on the world’s coming population decline – they couldn’t be more wrong.

Human beings are good. We create. We innovate. We solve problems. We make things better. We imagine, decorate, design and beautify. We do these things because we are made in the imago dei – the very image and likeness of God.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them
(Genesis, 1:26, 27, ESV).

Dr. Spears affirms this, writing, “Over the past 200 years, humanity’s population growth has gone hand in hand with profound advances in living standards and health: longer lives, healthier children, better education, shorter workweeks and many more improvements,” adding,

Our period of progress began recently, bringing the discovery of antibiotics, the invention of electric lightbulbs, video calls with Grandma and the possibility of eradicating Guinea worm disease. In this short period, humanity has been large and growing. Economists who study growth and progress don’t think this is a coincidence.

In short, in the past two millennia, humanity has realized profound societal advances precisely because we have experienced substantial population growth.

But as Dr. Spears warns – no more population growth, no more progress.

Innovations and discoveries are made by people. In a world with fewer people in it, the loss of so much human potential may threaten humanity’s continued path toward better lives…

Sustained below-replacement fertility will mean tens of billions of lives not lived over the next few centuries — many lives that could have been wonderful for the people who would have lived them and by your standards, too.

But as the world approaches a declining population sometime in this century, won’t people choose to have more children?


“In none of the countries where lifelong fertility rates have fallen well below two have they ever returned above it,” Dr. Spears correctly notes.

As finite human begins, though we can’t tell the future, we can have a very good guess.

And the future of the world looks older, smaller, poorer less productive and lonelier.

Since God created Adam and Eve, humanity has ridden on a population rollercoaster that has only gone up. Very soon, it starts going down the other side.

This fact clearly reiterates the wisdom of God’s design for humanity.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28, ESV).

When we give up on God’s original command to humankind, only grave consequences will result.

As a pro-family ministry, Focus on the Family recognizes the tremendous value of every person, every child and every marriage. To strengthen your family, check out our marriage and parenting resources.

Related articles and resources:

China Fertility Rate Falls to Record Low Amid Beginning of Global Population Crisis

China Launches Largest Fertility Initiative in Human History

No, The World Does Not Have Too Many People. It Has Too Few.

Births in Japan Fall to Record Low Amid Catastrophic Population Decline, Foretelling World’s Future

Japanese Prime Minister Warns of Imminent Societal Collapse Due to Low Birth Rate

‘60 Minutes’ Platforms New Environmental Alarmism from Man Who’s Been Famously Wrong for 50+ Years

Focus on the Family Marriage

Focus on the Family Parenting

Photo from Shutterstock.

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