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Don’t panic over fertility rates fall – charity says

The Lancet: Dramatic declines in global fertility rates set to transform global population patterns by 2100 | Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (healthdata.org)

Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Population Matters, says: “The three key messages around this study are “don’t panic”, “embrace the good news” and “read the small print”. It’s certainly no surprise to anyone with knowledge of demographics that fertility is declining and population is likely to peak this century. This study paints a picture of a world we’re already expecting and are perfectly equipped to manage, not a demographic comet hurtling towards the Earth.

In fact, the study affirms that we are most likely still to have a population at the end of this century that is higher than at the start of it.

The researchers themselves highlight the critical environmental benefits we can harness from a lower population, and how it can help ensure food security for all. The study also reiterates the dangers faced by the most vulnerable people in places where fertility rates and population growth are still perilously high.

While we fret in the rich world about solvable problems, hundreds of millions of people are blighted by grinding poverty partly because of our collective failure to ensure everyone has basic rights to health, gender equality, family planning and the capacity and freedom to choose their own family size. 

As this study shows, the emergency we have to deal with is not fewer people but the injustices that drive high fertility. It also provides yet more evidence and support for the benefits to our planet and thus all our futures from achieving a sustainable population.

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