At the forefront of issues that face humanity, many would rank climate change and overpopulation as perhaps some of the biggest existential threats. However, there are some, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who would disagree Earth cannot sustain population growth and point to population implosion as the largest threat facing humanity. Recent birth rates seem to reinforce this idea.
According to this argument, if countries with inverted population pyramids, like Japan or most of Europe, were to continue on this course over a long period of time they would vanish entirely. Population pyramids are a representation of the population by sex and age, with younger age and the bottom and older at the top, and the sexes on each side. Turning the focus to the United States, recent years suggest that there could be an inversion taking place. (Here are countries on track to shrink the most this century.)
24/7 Wall St. took a closer look at population changes throughout America’s modern history. Specifically, we reviewed the number of people born every year since 1933 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System. We also calculated the birth rate for each year using population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data on the most popular baby names comes from the Social Security Administration.
Over the last three years, the birth rate has fallen to roughly 11 births per 1,000 people. The recent birth rates are less than half the birth rate in 1947 of nearly 26 births per 1,000 Americans — the highest rate of the years examined.
Some are suggesting that the recent COVID-19 pandemic was a contributing factor to the decline over the past few years. Even though this may be true, there has been a definitive trend lower for a long time now. The pandemic may have just further lowered the birth rate in the near term. Whether or not there will be a bounce back remains to be seen. (This is the state that will grow the most in the next 20 years.)
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