WORLD - The Global Fertility Crash

Arno Froese

At least two children per woman—that’s what’s needed to ensure a stable population from generation to generation.  In the 1960s, the fertility rate was five live births per woman. By 2017 it had fallen to 2.43, close to that critical threshold.

Population growth is vital for the world economy. It means more workers to build homes and produce goods, more consumers to buy things and spark innovation, and more citizens to pay taxes and attract trade. While the world is expected to add more than 3 billion people by 2100, according to the United Nations, that’ll likely be the high point. Falling fertility rates and aging populations will mean serious challenges that will be felt more acutely in some places than others.

Government attempts to manage population growth are nothing new—consider the generous paid maternal leave of the Scandinavian countries or China’s recently rescinded one-child policy, each relatively effective in achieving its stated goal—but a new sense of urgency and even desperation is creeping into the search for ways to reverse the current trends. That said, achieving robust population growth is by no means the only contributor to economic growth—in some countries too-high fertility may actually be a drag on GDP, because of higher costs. But as these indicators suggest, it can be an important tailwind.

Productivity gains can make up some of the gaps as populations taper off and begin to shrink, but it’s a much more challenging way to grow an economy and may not be sustainable over time: For most of the countries in the OECD’s study, the relative contribution of productivity to growth has fallen over time.

Ultimately, no country will be left untouched by demographic decline. Governments will have to think creatively about ways to manage population, whether through state-sponsored benefits or family-planning edicts or discrimination protections, or else find their own path to sustainable economic growth with ever fewer native-born workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs., 31 October 2019

Arno's commentary

The alarmists from several decades ago, who warned of the world’s overpopulation, are now found to be in error. Japan, for example, as well as many of the rich European nations, already is sounding alarm bells, showing statistics of a declining population. Europe has opened its borders to refugees, with almost five million added to the population count. While nationalists strongly oppose immigrants, United Nations statistics clearly point out they are needed.

In the meantime, the much-feared explosion of crime because of foreigners in the country has not materialized either. The opposite is true; crime continues to decrease virtually throughout all of Europe.

For the Church, it’s a wonderful opportunity to present the gospel of grace to those who are in bondage to their religions, and—due to their migration—are likely disillusioned and therefore more open to the gospel. Several reliable reports clearly show that many Muslims are breaking through to a living faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.

While openly-practiced missionary activity has become increasingly difficult in many parts of the world, millions are being added to the Church in Africa and Asia—even in communist China, where some estimates range the Christian population to be more than 10% of the total population. Such is wonderful news, and it reminds us again of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “I will build my church.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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