Chinese people fell for the first time in more than six decadesaccording to figures released on Tuesday.
But it’s not the only one.
Many countries, especially in Europe and Asia, will see their populations decline in the coming decades, if the forecasts for 2100 published by the UN last July prove to be correct. In others, the population is already in decline.
Populations already in decline
Eight countries with more than 10 million people have seen their populations decline over the past decade. Most are European.
Alongside Ukraine, whose population plummeted due to the Russian invasion, numbers in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Romania and Greece are falling.
There are many reasons for these falls, some unique to each country, but they all share low fertility rates, which means women are having fewer babies on average than before.
Fertility rates of between 1.2 and 1.6 children per woman are recorded in these southern and eastern European countries, according to the World Bank. A fertility rate above 2 is necessary to maintain a stable population.
Added to this phenomenon is a huge migratory exodus towards Poland, Romania and Greece, with more departures for foreign countries than stays at home.
Outside Europe, Japan is also seeing its aging population decline. This is largely due to a low fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman and low immigration.
Japan lost more than 3 million people between 2011 and 2021.
The same goes for the Middle East. In Syria, the population has been devastated by more than a decade of bitter war, with millions of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries and beyond.
Around 606,000 men, women and children were killed in the fighting, estimates the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).
Those who will decline tomorrow
China – currently the most populous country in the world – has worried for years about the effect of its aging population on the economy and society, but the population is not expected to decline for nearly a decade.
Tuesday’s revelation that there are now fewer people in China is likely to turn into a lasting trend, impacting the population for years to come.
China is expected to lose nearly half of its population by 2100, dropping from over 1.4 billion to 771 million.
Russia, Germany, South Korea and Spain are all poised to join this downward trend as their populations begin to decline by 2030.
Europe’s population as a whole would begin to decline as early as this decade.
But there are exceptions.
While European, American and Asian populations are all expected to have started to decline by 2100, the number of people in Africa will continue to soar.
The African continent will increase from 1.4 to 3.9 billion inhabitants by 2100. Some 38% of the world’s population would then live in Africa, compared to around 18% today.