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Polish Economic Institute: Global fertility is dropping faster than expected

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Credit: Adobe Stock

The latest global fertility studies indicate that the rate is dropping faster than predicted by UN forecasts, and the global population will reach its peak in 2061, i.e. 20 years earlier than originally estimated, the Polish Economic Institute reports.

The most frequently cited source of demographic forecasts, the World Population Prospects, prepared every two years by a special UN agency, predicted in July 2022 that the global fertility rate in 2023 would be 2.31. This value is slightly above the replacement level, which ensures that the world population remains constant. However, according to updated data, it was 2.3 in 2021, which means a faster decline rate than forecast, the Polish Economic Institute reports.

The UN estimates that on a global scale it should be 2.2-2.3, which is slightly more than 2.1, the standard limit for developed countries. This difference is due to higher mortality and the so-called selective abortion, used in some countries. According to the UN, the global fertility rate will fall below the replacement level between 2040 and 2050. The number of people in the world is expected to reach its peak of 10.43 billion in 2086 and will then begin to decline.

In 2017, when the global fertility rate was 2.5, it was expected to drop to 2.4 by the end of the third decade of this century. However, there have been analyses showing that fertility rates in individual countries are falling faster than expected, and the global fertility rate may now remain below the replacement level. According to updated estimates, it amounted to 2.3 in 2021, the Polish Economic Institute says.

Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania shows that, according to data on the number of births published in recent years by individual countries, there were 10-20 percent less actual births than the UN estimated. Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington estimate that by 2050 the fertility rate will drop below the replacement level in as many as 155 of the 204 surveyed countries, only six countries will maintain the number of births at a level that would guarantee a stable population until 2100, and the world population will reach its peak of 9.5 billion in 2061 - 20 years earlier than the UN forecast.

The Polish Economic Institute reports that according to American scientists, the UN also underestimated the scale of the decline in births in Poland. While for 2022 the difference between the forecast and actual number of births was approximately 14 percent, in 2023 as many as 36 percent fewer children were born in Poland than forecasts predicted. The 272,000 births recorded in Poland last year was expected in 2055. This year's update of the UN forecast is expected to verify the original estimates, the institute reports.

The Polish Economic Institute is a public economic think tank. Its research areas include: macroeconomics, energy and climate, foreign trade, economic foresight, digital economy. (PAP)

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