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Dramatic population collapse expected in late 21st century, say researchers


Earth could become a bit roomier in the near future.

A new study published in The Lancet claims that declining birthrates around the world will result in the net loss of nearly 1 billions citizens from its mid-century population peak to 2100.

Equally disconcerting is that approximately two dozen nations, including Japan and Spain, are expected over the next eight decades to have less than half the citizens.

“That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” one of the study’s researchers and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation director Christopher Murray told BBC News. “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognize how big a thing this is. It’s extraordinary; we’ll have to reorganize societies.”

The demographic shift could be potentially disastrous as nations quickly age and form equal numbers of newborns and octogenarians.

The decline in fertility rates over the past 70 years has decreased by more than 50%. In 1950, each woman on Earth, on average, was giving birth to 4.7 children; today, that rate has plummeted to 2.1.

The researchers noted that 2017's worldwide fertility rate held at 2.4 but by century’s end is expected to tumble to just 1.7 — a drastic decline as it decreased under 4.0 in the mid-1970s and hit 3.0 by around 1990.

As a result, scientists predict Earth’s population to max out at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling sharply to 8.8 billion 36 years later.

Japan’s citizenry is projected to drop nearly 60% from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to only 53 million 83 years later, according to data. And Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population tumble from 61 million to 28 million over the same duration.

China, currently the world’s most populous nation with nearly 1.4 billion people is expected to cede that title to India.

But there could be a potential birth explosion in parts of Africa. Nigeria, currently the continent’s most populous nation with 206 million is expected to nearly quadruple by 2100 to nearly 800 million, according to the researchers.

Even the U.S., now home to approximately 328 million Americans, is expected to see that number rise slightly over the next eight decades.