Population and Social Characteristics

These 30 Countries Have Devastatingly Low Birth Rates

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Demographic trends often have far-reaching economic and social consequences. Birth rates are no exception, and in much of the world, they have been falling for decades. As recently as in the mid-1960s, women had an average of about five children in their lifetime, according to the World Bank. As of 2021, the latest year of available data, women were having an average of only 2.3 children — a historic low.

For a country to maintain its population size — immigration notwithstanding — the average fertility rate should stand at around 2.1 children per woman. Fertility rates above 2.1, meanwhile, indicate future population growth, which is typically desirable in countries not struggling with overpopulation.

But in many parts of the world — including the United States, where women have an average of only 1.7 children — fertility rates are well below the 2.1 threshold. In these circumstances, without increased immigration, population decline is likely in the coming years. Fewer children will eventually mean fewer working age adults to fill jobs, pay taxes, and support growing numbers of retirement-age citizens. Population decline can also be a drag on the overall economy, resulting in slower growth or even reduced gross domestic product.

Using data from the World Bank, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 30 countries with the lowest fertility rates. Data on total fertility rates, or the average number of children women have in their lifetime, are for 2021. Supplemental data on population, population change, and GDP per capita are also from the World Bank.

Among the countries on this list, fertility rates range from about 1.5 to just 0.8. Historically, low fertility rates have been more common in countries with relatively wealthy populations, and in most countries on this list, GDP per capita exceeds the $12,688 global average. (Here is a look at the wealthiest countries in the world.)

In many countries on this list, fertility rates have been below the key 2.1 threshold for years — and the consequences are already evident in demographic changes. A dozen of these countries have a smaller population now than they did a decade ago, and nearly half reported population decline between 2021 and 2022.

These are the 30 countries with the lowest birth rates.

30. Russia

Moscow+Russia | Ivan the Great Bell Tower
Source: pedrosz / Flickr

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.49
  • Total population: 144,236,933
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.1% (+106,451 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +0.5% (+729,938 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $15,271

29. Belarus

Source: Ryhor Bruyeu / iStock via Getty Images

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.48
  • Total population: 9,228,071
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.8% (-74,514 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -2.3% (-215,140 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $7,888

28. Serbia

Source: mareandmare / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.48
  • Total population: 6,664,449
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -2.5% (-169,877 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -7.0% (-499,683 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $9,538

27. Austria

Source: Patryk_Kosmider / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.48
  • Total population: 9,041,851
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +1.0% (+86,054 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +6.6% (+562,028 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $52,085

26. Finland

Source: wmaster890 / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.46
  • Total population: 5,556,106
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.3% (+15,089 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +2.2% (+117,134 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $50,872

25. United Arab Emirates

Source: Stefan Tomic / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.46
  • Total population: 9,441,129
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.8% (+75,984 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +7.9% (+689,282 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $53,708

24. Cuba

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.44
  • Total population: 11,212,191
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.4% (-44,181 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -1.0% (-109,388 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2020: $9,500

23. Canada

Source: daoleduc / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.43
  • Total population: 38,929,902
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +1.8% (+703,404 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +11.0% (+3,846,948 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $55,522

22. Bhutan

Source: Debashis Kumar / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.41
  • Total population: 782,455
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.6% (+4,969 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +7.3% (+53,566 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2021: $3,560

21. Mauritius

Source: Konstik / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.41
  • Total population: 1,262,523
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.3% (-3,811 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +0.3% (+3,596 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $10,256

20. St. Lucia

Source: Marina113 / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.40
  • Total population: 179,857
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.1% (+206 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +3.4% (+5,879 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $13,031

19. Greece

Source: Allard1 / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.39
  • Total population: 10,426,919
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -1.3% (-142,288 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -4.9% (-538,292 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $20,867

18. Albania

Source: RossHelen / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.39
  • Total population: 2,777,689
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -1.2% (-33,977 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -4.1% (-117,403 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $6,810

17. The Bahamas

Source: tomalu / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.39
  • Total population: 409,984
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.5% (+2,078 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +6.3% (+24,334 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $31,458

16. Portugal

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.38
  • Total population: 10,409,704
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.5% (+47,873 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -0.5% (-47,591 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $24,515

15. Luxembourg

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.38
  • Total population: 653,103
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +2.0% (+13,039 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +20.2% (+109,743 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $125,006

14. Jamaica

Source: GummyBone / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.35
  • Total population: 2,827,377
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.0% (-318 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +2.0% (+54,248 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $6,047

13. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Source: Greg Sullavan / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.35
  • Total population: 3,233,526
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -1.1% (-37,417 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -10.6% (-384,033 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $7,569

12. Lithuania

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.34
  • Total population: 2,831,639
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +1.1% (+30,800 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -4.3% (-126,050 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $25,065

11. Thailand

Source: Preto_perola / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.33
  • Total population: 71,697,030
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.1% (+95,927 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +3.0% (+2,118,428 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $6,910

10. Poland

Source: RossHelen / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.33
  • Total population: 36,821,749
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -2.5% (-925,375 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -3.2% (-1,218,447 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $18,688

9. Cyprus

Source: trabantos / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.32
  • Total population: 1,251,488
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.6% (+7,300 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +7.2% (+84,520 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $32,048

8. Japan

Source: StockByM / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.30
  • Total population: 125,124,989
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.4% (-556,604 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -1.8% (-2,320,011 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $34,017

7. Italy

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.25
  • Total population: 58,940,425
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.3% (-192,748 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -2.1% (-1,293,523 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $34,776

6. Spain

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.19
  • Total population: 47,778,340
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.8% (+362,546 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +2.5% (+1,158,295 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $29,675

5. China

Source: zhaojiankang / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.16
  • Total population: 1,412,175,000
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +0.0% (-185,000 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +3.6% (+48,935,000 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $12,720

4. Ukraine

Source: Silent_GOS / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.16
  • Total population: 38,000,000
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -13.3% (-5,822,901 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: -16.5% (-7,489,648 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $4,534

3. Malta

Source: vidalgo / Shutterstock.com
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.14
  • Total population: 531,113
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +2.4% (+12,577 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +24.7% (+105,146 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $34,128

2. Singapore

  • Fertility rate, 2021: 1.12
  • Total population: 5,637,022
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: +3.4% (+183,456 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +4.4% (+237,860 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $82,808

1. South Korea

Source: aomam / iStock via Getty Images
  • Fertility rate, 2021: 0.81
  • Total population: 51,628,117
  • 1-yr. population change, 2021-2022: -0.2% (-116,759 people)
  • 10-yr. population change, 2013-2022: +2.4% (+1,199,224 people)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $32,423
Rank Country Total fertility rate, 2021 GDP per capita ($) 1-yr population change (%) 10-yr population change (%)
1 Korea, Rep. 0.8 32,423 -0.2 2.4
2 Singapore 1.1 82,808 3.4 4.4
3 Malta 1.1 34,128 2.4 24.7
4 Ukraine 1.2 4,534 -13.3 -16.5
5 China 1.2 12,720 0.0 3.6
6 Spain 1.2 29,675 0.8 2.5
7 Italy 1.3 34,776 -0.3 -2.1
8 Japan 1.3 34,017 -0.4 -1.8
9 Cyprus 1.3 32,048 0.6 7.2
10 Poland 1.3 18,688 -2.5 -3.2
11 Thailand 1.3 6,910 0.1 3.0
12 Lithuania 1.3 25,065 1.1 -4.3
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.4 7,569 -1.1 -10.6
14 Jamaica 1.4 6,047 0.0 2.0
15 Luxembourg 1.4 125,006 2.0 20.2
16 Portugal 1.4 24,515 0.5 -0.5
17 Bahamas, The 1.4 31,458 0.5 6.3
18 Albania 1.4 6,810 -1.2 -4.1
19 Greece 1.4 20,867 -1.3 -4.9
20 St. Lucia 1.4 13,031 0.1 3.4
21 Mauritius 1.4 10,256 -0.3 0.3
22 Bhutan 1.4 3,560 0.6 7.3
23 Canada 1.4 55,522 1.8 11.0
24 Cuba 1.4 9,500 -0.4 -1.0
25 United Arab Emirates 1.5 53,708 0.8 7.9
26 Finland 1.5 50,872 0.3 2.2
27 Austria 1.5 52,085 1.0 6.6
28 Serbia 1.5 9,538 -2.5 -7.0
29 Belarus 1.5 7,888 -0.8 -2.3
30 Russian Federation 1.5 15,271 0.1 0.5

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