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The global collapse in fertility rates between 1970 – 2014

By Paul Hodges on 16-Jul-2015

Fertility map Jul15A blog reader has kindly sent me the maps above from BrilliantMaps.com.   They highlight the dramatic collapse in fertility rates since 1970, which have nearly halved from a global average of 4.85 babies/woman to just 2.5 babies per woman today:

  • Dark blue covers countries where rates are 1 – 2 babies/woman
  • Light blue is 2 – 3 babies/woman
  • Green is 3 – 4 babies/woman
  • Yellow is 4 – 5 babies/woman
  • Red is 5 – 6 babies/woman
  • Pink is 6 – 7 babies/woman

They highlight how 72 countries now have fertility rates below replacement levels of 2.1 babies/woman, compared to just 2 countries in 1970 (Finland and Sweden).  As BrilliantMaps note:

You can see that many countries in the world (all in dark blue) are now below replacement level including 3 of the 4 BRIC countries (China, Russia and Brazil), all of Europe (except France, Ireland and Turkey) along with Japan, Canada and Australia, among others….The world’s two most populous countries have both seen their rates drop significantly between 1970 and 2014. India’s dropped from 5.5 to 2.4 a 56% decrease, while China’s dropped from 5.5 to 1.6 – a 71% decrease and well below replacement.  

In turn, this collapse in fertility rates has led to a major reduction in the size of the key Wealth Creator 25 – 54 generation, which drives spending and economic growth.  Today’s slowdown in global economic growth will therefore inevitably continue for decades – for the simple reason that even if fertility rates were to suddenly increase tomorrow, it would still take 25 years for the new babies to join the Wealth Creator generation.

The positive news, of course, is that life expectancy at the age of 65 has increased to 20 years in the developed world, and to 10 years in the developing world.  So a whole new generation of people is alive today for the first time in history.

Companies and investors who want to build sustainable businesses for the future therefore need to start developing products and services to meet the needs of this fast-growing generation of over-55s.