Pakistan's Growing Population: Challenge or Opportunity?

“So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism - a new dark ages.” ― Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity ...

Fear of Population Bomb:

The above quote captures the true essence of the West's racist fears about what some of them call the "population bomb": East will dominate the West economically and politically for centuries if the growing colored populations of developing Asia and Africa turn the West's former colonies into younger and more dynamic nations with rising education and better living standards.

Much of the developed world has already fallen below the "replacement" fertility rate of 2.1.  Fertility rates impact economic dynamism, cultural stability and political and military power in the long run.

Pakistan Population Growth:

Pakistani women's fertility rates have declined significantly from about 4.56 in 2000 to 2.86 babies per woman in 2014, a drop of 37% in 14 years.  In percentage terms, Pakistan population growth rate has come down from 2.3% in 2000 to 1.6% in 2014, a decline of about 30%. It is being driven drown by the same forces that have worked in the developed world in the last century: increasing urbanization, growing incomes, greater participation in the workforce and rising education.  Pakistan now ranks 65 among 108 countries with TFR of 2.1 (replacement rate) or higher.

Total Fertility Rate Per Pakistani Woman. Source: CIA World FactBook

Pakistan is already the most urbanized country in South Asia and its urbanization is accelerating. Pakistan has also continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And ...

Pakistan Population Growth in Percentage Terms. Source: World Bank

Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force with growing human capital. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.

With half the population below 20 years and 60 per cent below 30 years, Pakistan is well-positioned to reap what is often described as "demographic dividend", with its workforce growing at a faster rate than total population. This trend is estimated to accelerate over several decades. Contrary to the oft-repeated talk of doom and gloom, average Pakistanis are now taking education more seriously than ever. Youth literacy is about 70% and growing, and young people are spending more time in schools and colleges to graduate at higher rates than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee. Vocational training is also getting increased focus since 2006 under National Vocational Training Commission (NAVTEC) with help from Germany, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands.

Pakistan's work force is over 60 million strong, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics. With increasing female participation, the country's labor pool is rising at a rate of 3.5% a year, according to International Labor Organization.

With rising urban middle class, there is substantial and growing demand in Pakistan from students, parents and employers for private quality higher education along with a willingness and capacity to pay relatively high tuition and fees, according to the findings of Austrade, an Australian govt agency promoting trade. Private institutions are seeking affiliations with universities abroad to ensure they offer information and training that is of international standards.

Trans-national education (TNE) is a growing market in Pakistan and recent data shows evidence of over 40 such programs running successfully in affiliation with British universities at undergraduate and graduate level, according to The British Council. Overall, the UK takes about 65 per cent of the TNE market in Pakistan.

It is extremely important for Pakistan's public policy makers and the nation's private sector to fully appreciate the expected demographic dividend as a great opportunity. The best way for them to demonstrate it is to push a pro-youth agenda of education, skills developmenthealth and fitness to take full advantage of this tremendous opportunity. Failure to do so would be a missed opportunity that could be extremely costly for Pakistan and the rest of the world.

Growth Forecast 2014-2050. Source: EIU

In the high fertility countries of Africa and Asia family sizes are continuing to decline. And in low fertility countries family sizes will continue to remain below replacement levels. Why? Because the same juggernaut forces are operating: increasing urbanization, smaller and costly housing, expanding higher education and career opportunities for women, high financial costs and time pressures for childrearing and changing attitudes and life styles.

Source: BBC

Countries With Declining Populations:

115 countries, including China (1.55), Hong Kong (1.17),  Taiwan (1.11) and Singapore (0.8) are well below the replacement level of 2.1 TFR.  Their populations will sharply decline in later part of the 21st century.

 United States is currently at 2.01 TFR, slightly below the replacement rate.  "We don't take a stance one way or the other on whether it's good or bad," said Mark Mather, demographer with the Population Reference Bureau. Small year-to-year changes like those experienced by the United States don't make much difference, he noted. But a sharp or sustained drop over a decade or more "will certainly have long-term consequences for society," he told Utah-based Desert News National.

Japan (1.4 TFR) and Russia (1.6 TFR) are experiencing among the sharpest population declines in the world. One manifestation in Japan is the data on diaper sales: Unicharm Corp., a major diaper maker, has seen sales of adult diapers outpace infant diapers since 2013, according to New York Times.

Median Age Map: Africa in teens, Pakistan in 20s, China, South America and US in 30s, Europe, Canada and Japan in 40s.

The Russian population grew from about 100 million in 1950 to almost149 million by the early 1990s. Since then, the Russian population has declined, and official reports put it at around 144 million, according to Yale Global Online.

Reversing Trends:

Countries, most recently China, are finding that it is far more difficult to raise low fertility than it is reduce high fertility. The countries in the European Union are offering a variety of incentives, including birth starter kits to assist new parents in Finland, cheap childcare centers and liberal parental leave in France and a year of paid maternity leave in Germany, according to Desert News. But the fertility rates in these countries remain below replacement levels.

Summary:

Overzealous Pakistani birth control advocates need to understand what countries with sub-replacement fertility rates are now seeing: Low birth rates lead to diminished economic growth. "Fewer kids mean fewer tax-paying workers to support public pension programs. An "older society", noted the late Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker, is "less dynamic, creative and entrepreneurial."

Related Links:

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Views: 1325

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 24, 2015 at 8:53am

There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14. The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years. In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).


Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/07/pakistans-rising-college-enrollment-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 25, 2015 at 9:27am

In 2014, 37 per cent Pakistanis hoped for a better economic future. In 2015, it increased to 47pc, registering a 10pc improvement, according to the latest Pew survey.

Other nations on this list include Nigeria, Argentina, India and Spain.

In 2014, 64pc people in India saw their future as bright, which increased to 74pc in 2015.

The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre, however, shows that most Pakistanis (51pc) are unhappy with the current economic situation while 47pc say it is good. Others declined to comment.

Forty-eight pc see economic situation in Pakistan improving over the next 12 months, 23pc say it will remain the same and 13pc say it will worsen.

Fifty-one pc Pakistanis believe that when today’s children grow up, they will be financially better off than their parent but 22pc say they will be worse off.

The report also includes a World Bank economic categorisation, which places Pakistan in the lower middle group with a gross domestic product of $241 billion, GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity at $4,886, and average GDP growth of 4.4pc between 2005 and 2014.

The survey of 40 nations finds that publics in fewer than half of those countries have a positive view of their nation’s economy.

But there are signs of growing public faith in economic recoveries in some of the world’s largest economies.

Roughly four-in-ten Americans, Europeans and Japanese say economic conditions are good in their countries. Such sentiment is up 30 percentage points in Japan from a low point in 2012; up 23 points from the 2009 low in the United States; and up 23 points from the 2013 low for the median of five European Union nations surveyed.

Overall, people in emerging economies and developing countries are more likely than those in advanced economies to believe that economic conditions will improve over the next 12 months.

The IMF expects global growth in 2015 will be marginally slower than that in 2014. Only in developing nations does a majority (58pc) expect conditions to get better.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1196015

http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/07/23/global-publics-economic-conditi...

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 25, 2015 at 9:29pm

CNN on Hans Rosling's "Ignorance Project": 

The world is spinning so fast that it can be hard to keep track of everything that is going on. Yet despite the fact that we can feel like we are being increasingly overloaded with information, it's not clear that we're doing a very good job of making sense of all that data we're receiving.

Don't believe me? Well, try answering these three questions on major global trends:

1) What percent of 1-year-olds in the world are vaccinated against measles? Is it 20, 50 or 80%?

2) Young adult men today have, on average, eight years of schooling, globally. How many years of school do you think the world's women of the same age have attended? Is it 3 years, 5 years or 7 years?

3) How has the proportion of people living in extreme poverty around the world changed over the past 25 years? Has it doubled, stayed about the same, or been halved?

So, here are the answers: Around 83 percent of the world's 1-year-olds are vaccinated against measles; 25-year-old women have, on average, been to school almost as long as males the same age, having attended for about seven years; and extreme poverty has been more than halved since 1990.

Did you get those right? You probably didn't. And you're very far from alone. In fact, when the Gapminder Foundation partnered with polling firms around the world to ask members of the public in Europe and the United States these and similar questions, what we found was a depressing lack of awareness about some of the most basic facts about our world. In fact, less than a fifth of Americans, Swedes, Germans and Britons answered these three questions correctly.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the world we live in is about global population growth. The number of children in the world has actually stopped increasing, because 80 percent of us live in societies where the two-child family is the norm. And how many people would have guessed that women in Brazil, Iran and Vietnam today have fewer babies, on average, than women in the United States?

In a way, this lack of knowledge shouldn't come as much of a surprise because there is something that actively skews our thought process: Preconceived ideas.

We all have them. Even those of us who think we keep abreast of what is going on in the world have personal biases because we have been taught a mountain of facts that are now outdated, whether we learned them in school or at work. And then there is our news media, which is built upon conflict and a black-and-white model of explanation (hence our susceptibility to negative headlines).

All this means that if you went to the zoo with the questions posed earlier written down on piece of cardboard, placed a banana beside each of the three alternatives and let some chimps have a go at picking the answers, they could be expected to get one in three questions correct, beating most humans in the process.

Does our ignorance of strong positive trends, which makes us believe that the world is a sicker, worse place than it is, really matter?

Yes, because as a result we are more likely to make the wrong decisions. Indeed, a world view based on outdated facts can have severe consequences -- from not investing where we will get the best returns, to allocating aid where it might have little impact.

With this in mind, the director of Gapminder, Ola Rosling, has launched The Ignorance Project in an effort to identify where our collective knowledge is weakest, and therefore where we might be likely to make the biggest mistakes. We will be formulating 250 questions on major aspects of global development and the state of the world and, over five years, will gradually identify the 25 least known but important global facts through surveys across 130 countries.

With luck, by highlighting just how little we know about the world, we will be able to encourage fact-based teaching of the world in our schools. 

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/07/opinions/rosling-global-knowledge/

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 30, 2015 at 9:44pm

A new UN study of global population trends predicts that India will overtake China to become the world's most populous nation by 2022.
The report also says that Nigeria will replace the US as the world's third most populous country by around 2050.
Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world's population growth over the next 35 years.
The current world population of 7.3 billion will reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, it predicts.
The new projection has India overtaking China's population six years earlier than previously predicted.
The reports says half of the world's population growth between 2015 and 2050 is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Indonesia and Uganda.
The populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, 10 African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five.
"The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition," said John Wilmoth, Director of the UN's Population Division.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33720723

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 23, 2015 at 10:18pm

#Pakistan teenage student wins second prize at #NASA contest http://tribune.com.pk/story/943287/pakistani-boy-wins-second-prize-... … A Pakistani boy secured second prize at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Space Settlement Design Contest 2015.

Shah Mir Aizaz, a student of O’ Levels, participated in the annual design competition for students from grade 7 to grade 12, sponsored by the NASA Ames Research Center and the National Space Society NSS. He won second prize for his design titled, ‘Beyond Infinity – Eros Outer Atmosphere Settlement’.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 31, 2015 at 7:54am

Sixteen-year-old Raffay Ansari is a self-taught programmer. He’s been an iOS developer for over three years and has now graduated into full-stack, meaning he’s comfortable working with a number of different languages as well as both back-end and front-end technologies. The teenage prodigy from Pakistan has earned several thousand dollars freelancing online, coded games that have attracted about 8 million cumulative downloads, and is now on the brink of launching his own start-up....Raffay has Ataxia, which means he has difficulty walking, speaking clearly, writing, reading, and other activities that require fine motor control. Raffay tells Tech in Asia that his muscles continue to weaken, even after his diagnosis over two years ago.

“The disease is more of a gift to me. As I can’t sleep much at night, I utilise the time learning new things instead. People treat me differently and are always willing to help. It’s a huge advantage,” he beams.

------------

The internet became Raffay’s teacher. He taught himself how to code through free online courses, primarily from Code Academy. His parents were initially reluctant to encourage his sudden interest in programming, but warmed up to the idea once they saw his passion for it. By the age of 13, he had successfully bid for and completed his first freelance assignment – coding the iOS game Mr Flap.

Raffay is now on the brink of launching his own start-up, Odyssy, which he describes as a data-driven content management system (CMS) targeted at bloggers and publishers who aren’t very technologically savvy and who don’t want to spend time coding in HTML. He reveals Odyssy is on the brink of closing its seed funding round – $20,000 from an angel investor based out of Islamabad.


http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/meet-the-16-year...

https://www.techinasia.com/this-self-taught-coder-probably-has-more...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 2, 2015 at 8:25pm

NPR on the development of the birth control pill:

The Great Bluff That Led To A 'Magical' Pill And A Sexual Revolution

She (Margaret Sanger) went to work in the slums of New York City where women were having eight, nine, 10 children with no idea how to stop it, other than having abortions, which were often poorly performed and very dangerous. So she saw this stuff very up close. ...


But by the time you get to Sanger and she's a young woman working in New York City, it's very hard for women to get any kind of education even about birth control, much less birth control products. She has this plan to improve education for women. But her dream, and it's really just a dream, is that there should be some kind of magical pill — something that would allow women to turn on and off their reproductive systems.


Eig tells the history in his new book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.

The four people who created this revolution were: Margaret Sanger, who believed that women could not enjoy sex or freedom until they could control when and whether they got pregnant; scientist Gregory Pincus, who was fired from Harvard for experimenting with in-vitro fertilization and bragging about it to the mainstream press; John Rock, who was a Catholic OB-GYN and worked with Pincus to conduct tests of the pill on women; and Katharine McCormick, who funded much of the research.

In the '50s, selling contraception was still officially illegal in many states.

But Sanger and McCormick, a feminist who had been active in the suffrage movement, wanted women to enjoy sex — without fear of getting pregnant.

After McCormick's husband died, McCormick got in touch with Sanger.

According to Eig, McCormick said, "What's the most important thing we could possibly work on?"

"Sanger said, 'The best thing we could possibly do is work on this pill, this miracle tablet ... something that would give women the right to control their bodies for the first time.' And McCormick said, 'I'm in: Whatever you need.' "

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/10/07/354103536/the-g...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 29, 2015 at 4:11pm

#China to End One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children http://nyti.ms/1kVju7L 

Driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy on Thursday, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children



The decision was a dramatic step away from a core Communist Party position that Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who imposed the policy in the late 1970s, once said was needed to ensure that “the fruits of economic growth are not devoured by population growth.”

For China’s leaders, the controls were a triumphant demonstration of the party’s capacity to reshape even the most intimate dimensions of citizens’ lives. But they bred intense resentment over the brutal intrusions involved, including forced abortions and crippling fines, especially in the countryside.


Parents gathered at a “marriage market” at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing to seek spouses for their children. Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor, supports more flexible marital arrangements to address the surplus of bachelors.Sinosphere Blog: A Chinese Economist Responds to Critics of His Proposal to Let Men Share a WifeOCT. 27, 2015

The Chinese limit of one child for most families, which was enacted to slow population growth, has led to criticism.China to Ease 
The efforts to limit family size also led to a skewed sex ratio of males to females, because traditional rural families favor boys over girls, sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son.

Thursday’s announcement was the highlight of a party meeting at which President Xi Jinping sought to display his control over a flagging economy after a jittery summer of tepid indicators, deepening skepticism about official data and a tumultuous slide in the stock market.

Yet while the decision surprised many experts and ordinary Chinese, some said it was unlikely to ignite either a baby boom or an economic one.

“Anything demographic, we always have to think in terms of decades in terms of long-term impact,” said Tao Wang, the chief China economist at UBS.

“It’s not about stimulating growth or consumption of baby powder next quarter or next year,” she said. “Will the birthrate go up? Yes. Will it somehow increase significantly? We don’t know.”

China eased some restrictions in the one-child policy in 2013, allowing couples to have two children if one of the spouses was an only child. But many eligible couples declined to have a second child, citing the expense and pressures of raising children in a highly competitive society.

The initial public reaction to the party leaders’ decision was restrained, and many citizens in Beijing who were asked whether they would grasp the chance to have two children expressed reluctance or outright indifference. Some, however, were pleased.

“Really, can you show me the news on your phone?” said Sun Bing, 34, the owner of a small technology store in Beijing, who had his 2-year-old son by his side.

“This is a good thing, and I’m very supportive,” he said. “I want to have a second kid in two years. But, of course, it’s not cheap to raise children.”

------------


Liang Zhongtang, a retired demographer who has advised Chinese officials on population policy since the 1980s and has long argued that they should relax the one-child policy, said the change had come too late to make a big difference in the country’s population trajectory. He said he had pushed for such a change since the 1980s.

“It’s not just a problem of whether you permit ordinary people to have one or two kids. It’s about returning their reproductive rights to them,” Mr. Liang said in a telephone interview from Shanghai. “In over 200 countries and regions around the world, which of them nowadays controls people’s reproduction like this?”

Michael Forsythe contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Owen Guo, Vanessa Piao and Kiki Zhao contributed research.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 3, 2015 at 10:09pm

Here (in Stuttgart, Germany), migration has long been an engine of growth, and integration the bedrock of civic pride. The problems Stuttgart faces are ones that prosperous cities around the globe now share, American ones included: a dearth of affordable housing and the kind of apartments that suit the evolving demographics of the people who occupy them.

A screenshot from the website of Norbert Baksa, a Hungarian photographer, showing a model playing a migrant taking a selfie.Open Source: Hungarian Fashion Photographer Defends ‘Migrant Chic’ SpreadOCT. 7, 2015
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Monday in Brussels, where he said that the key to resolving the migration crisis was for Europe to do more to contain the war in Syria.Turkish Leader Says E.U. Should Do More About SyriaOCT. 5, 2015
A security officer near a fence on Saturday in Coquelles, France, that was damaged as migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel.Migrants Evade Security to Enter Tunnel in France OCT. 3, 2015
Open Source: Young Refugee Who Fled Syria in Wheelchair Thanks ‘Days of Our Lives’ Stars Who Reunited for HerOCT. 1, 2015
A family of migrants from Macedonia at a processing center on a former American military base in Bamberg, Germany.Defining Refugees Versus Migrants in GermanySEPT. 29, 2015
“Boomtowns are integration cities,” said Gari Pavkovic, the son of a Croatian guest worker who arrived here decades ago. Mr. Pavkovic now manages immigration for the city government.

He ticked off numbers. Forty percent of Stuttgart’s 600,000 residents (or 60 percent of people under the age of 18) come from abroad, twice the national average. After World War II, foreign laborers rebuilt local industry: first Italians, then Greeks, Spaniards, Yugoslavians, Turks. And they’re still coming. Some 20,000 newcomers arrive annually, not counting the current wave of Syrians and others. Immigrants account for one of every three start-ups.

The other day, Levent Gunes, who works for the city planning office, provided a tour of a disused tank engine factory, an industrial relic being converted into an arts complex. The man who bought it was born in Turkey and owns a bakery across the street, Mr. Gunes said, next to a big Turkish supermarket and mosque.

“The percentage of entrepreneurs in Stuttgart with migrant backgrounds is the highest in Germany,” Mr. Gunes, who teaches at Stuttgart University and is the son of Turkish migrants himself, elaborated over börek and yogurt at the bakery.

“We’re talking I.T. people, engineers, architects, artists,” he said. “You only see the greengrocer and the butcher at street level, not all the doctors and lawyers upstairs.”

Stuttgart’s big move was to avoid pushing migrants into poor, isolated suburbs as in Rome or Paris, he emphasized.

“The layout of the city has reinforced integration,” he said.

One can see what he means by what’s not here. Stuttgart doesn’t have ethnic enclaves. After World War II, Mercedes and Bosch erected hostels for guest workers. But by the 1970s, when Manfred Rommel became mayor, political and business leaders adopted a different tack, integrating migrants into existing communities in the city center. Stuttgart embraced a melting pot urbanism.

Wilfried Porth, a member of the Daimler board and director of the company’s labor relations, recalls Stuttgart as a dour place years ago.


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/world/europe/stuttgart-embraces-m... 

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 3, 2015 at 10:09pm

How plunging birth rates spell disaster for economic growth? #China #Europe #US http://on.wsj.com/1MqBH5Z via @WSJ
By RUCHIR SHARMA
Sept. 23, 2015 6:27 p.m. ET

News reports suggest that the world is overflowing with people. Politicians in the U.S. and Europe talk about migrants—whether from Latin America or the Middle East—as a threat: They’ll steal jobs, depress wages and upend local ways of life. The backlash plays on deep-seated fears about a “population bomb.” The latest United Nations forecasts suggest that the global population will rise to 9.7 billion over the next 35 years, an increase of 2.4 billion. Where will they live, and what will they eat?

This narrative is sorely out of date. For much of the post-World War II era the world’s population grew at an average annual rate of almost 2%. But growth started to plummet in 1990 and is now running at about 1%—the lowest level in the postwar era—according to U.N. data.

This collapse is seriously undermining potential economic growth—roughly calculated as the rate of growth in the working-age population added to the rate of growth in productivity, or output per worker—and goes a long way toward explaining the sluggish recovery from the crisis of 2008.

Global GDP growth has been trending lower this decade and now stands at just under 2.5% a year, a full percentage point below its long-term precrisis average of 3.5%. It is no coincidence that since 2005 the growth in the working-age population, ages 15 to 64, has slowed from about 1.8% to 1%.

Thanks to rising prosperity and increased urbanization, women around the world are having fewer children. Since 1960 the average number of births per woman has fallen to 2.5 from nearly 5. Yet the global fertility rate continues to slip toward 2.1—the figure required to keep the population from shrinking.

In 83 countries, which contain almost half the world’s population, the typical woman has fewer than two children, including the U.S., China, Russia, Brazil, South Korea and every major country in Europe.

Falling fertility rates typically affect the economy after a lag of 15 years, as babies grow into working-age adults. But oddly, anti-immigrant sentiment has erupted precisely as the economic fallout of the birthrate implosion has become clearly visible. This year, for the first time in the postwar era, China’s working-age population is expected to decline—and it is likely to continue falling in coming years. The emerging world is going to have many fewer people to export than the anti-immigrant populists in the developed world imagine.

The negative economic effect of falling birthrates is magnified by another trend: Since 1960 the average lifespan world-wide has climbed to 69 from 50. The overall global population is still rising, slowly, but a greater share of it is people over 50. As previous generations retire they will impose a larger burden, in health care and pensions, on working-age sons and daughters.

The aging squeeze will be felt much more sharply in the emerging world where life expectancy has risen, and fertility rates have fallen, faster. In India the fertility rate has plunged from more than 6 in 1960 to 2.5. Though India is still on track to become the world’s most populous country in 2022, the annual growth in its working-age population will fall from an average of 2.2% last decade to 1.1% next decade.

Many countries see the threat posed by an imbalance between workers and retirees. Some have offered women “baby bonuses” to have more children, but with spotty results so far. Others have focused on boosting the size of the active labor force by bringing mothers or elderly people back to work. Most European countries are raising their “retirement age”—a 20th-century concept—to prevent energetic 50-somethings from quitting work.

---

Only the countries that adapt early to the population implosion will thrive in the baby-bust era. Meanwhile, the controversies over immigrants “stealing jobs” are likely to fade in the coming years, and give way to a new war for talent. 

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