Some need population, some don’t - GulfToday

Some need population, some don’t


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

“We need our factories to reopen because we need to run our families,” said a Bangladeshi garment worker. “Hunger doesn’t wait,” she added on television.

Statements like these will keep worrying us, and always, if we don’t consider ways to deal with the galloping population in the developing world. It is a part of the world where water, food, medicines and related needs are perennially short. Interestingly, most of the developed world wants the numbers to go up.

The Earth will be home to 8.8 billion souls in 2100, two billion fewer than current United Nations projections, according to a major and deep study, published recently, that foresees new global power alignments shaped by declining fertility rates and greying populations.  By the end of the century, 183 of 195 countries — barring an influx of immigrants — will have fallen below the replacement threshold needed to maintain population levels, an international team of researchers reported in The Lancet.

More than 20 countries — including Japan, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Portugal, South Korea and Poland — will see their numbers diminish by at least half.That will trigger problems unique to each of the countries. China’s will fall nearly that much, from 1.4 billion people today to 730 million in 80 years. Sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, will triple in size to some three billion people, with Nigeria alone expanding to almost 800 million in 2100, second only to India’s 1.1 billion.

“These forecasts suggest good news for the environment, with less stress on food production systems and lower carbon emissions, as well as significant economic opportunity for parts of sub-Saharan Africa,” lead author Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, told AFP.

“However, most countries outside of Africa will see shrinking workforces and inverting population pyramids, which will have profound negative consequences for the economy.”

For high-income countries in this category, the best solutions for sustaining population levels and economic growth will be flexible immigration policies and social support for families who want children, the study concluded with hard evidences.

“However, in the face of declining population there is a very real and big danger that some countries might consider policies that restrict access to reproductive health services, with potentially devastating consequences,” Murray cautioned in afact-filled statement. “It is imperative that women’s freedom and rights are at the top of every government’s development agenda,” it was argued. Social services and healthcare systems will need to be overhauled to accommodate much older populations.

As fertility falls and life expectancy increases worldwide, the number of children under five is forecast to decline by more than 40 per cent, from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100, the study found.

At the other end of the spectrum, 2.37 billion people — more than a quarter of the global population — will be over 65 years old by then.

Those over 80 will balloon from about 140 million today to 866 million. Sharp declines in the number and proportion of the working-age population will also pose huge challenges in many countries.

It is really baffling to discover that in some parts of the world a serious check to an ever-growing population is absolutely necessary. Because reports and images emerging from these areas

arenot only heart-wrenching, they are also a wakeup call to those who have enough to give, and give lavishly, and  rescue our fellow human beings.

The story changes dramatically in some countries. They need people, they need hands, and young ones at that, to keep them going. The solution: The well-fed have to keep the ill-fed in shape so that the latter’s good health, in the form of workforce, allows them to keep the ship of the well-fed sailing. Life, we are told repeatedly, is a shared exercise. And let’s not move away from that.

Related articles