Boston Globe, August 18, 2004
Population losses expected
for many industrialized nations
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Japan, Germany and many other
large industrialized countries face long-term
population slowdowns or declines as more young
adults have fewer children or delay child-rearing,
While the world's population is expected to increase
by almost 50 percent by 2050, Japan could lose
20 percent of its population over the next
half-century, according to data released yesterday
by the private Population Reference Bureau.
Russia's population is expected to decline by
17 percent, and Germany's by 9 percent.
The United States is the biggest exception among
industrialized countries, with its population
expected to rise by 43 percent from 293 million
now to 420 million at midcentury.
While the United States, like other developed
nations, has an increasing number of older
residents, the US population is expected to
keep growing in large part because of immigration.
Some European countries have considered loosening
immigration curbs as a way to help fill shortages
for highly skilled workers and to build a tax
base to replace dwindling funds for programs
for the aged.
But the underlying reasons for the population
dilemma faced by industrialized nations are
mainly socioeconomic, says demographer Martha
Farnsworth Riche, former head of the US Census
"Modernization" -- the way today's
economies are built on a more educated work
force -- is causing more young adults to think
twice about having large families, Riche said.
They must consider direct costs, like sending
a child to college, and indirect costs, such
as a parent having to take time off from a
career to raise a child, before starting a
She cited some examples:
In Japan, more educated younger women are choosing
to delay marriage or childbirth -- or to forgo
them entirely -- as an expression of independence
that previous generations of Japanese women
More people are graduating from college, and
more of today's children expect to get a higher
education than previous generations did. That
means young families concerned about college
costs may choose to have fewer children.
The cost of raising a child may especially hinder
young adults from having large families in
countries facing economic hardships, such as
in eastern Europe, said Carl Haub, author of
the Population Reference Bureau's 2004 World
Population Data Sheet, which was released yesterday.
Haub added that in Italy, many young men live
at home with parents until their late 20s because
it is less acceptable to live with someone
and raise a family out of wedlock.
As a result, many young Italians either don't
get married or may leave the country entirely,
The annual study from Haub found that the world's
population will increase nearly 50 percent
by midcentury to almost 9.2 billion. The projection
was on par with previous forecasts from the
United Nations and the US Census Bureau. Nearly
all the growth would come from developing nations,
even though less developed countries generally
have much higher rates of HIV and AIDS infections
and infant mortality.
While the population of developed countries would
rise 4 percent to over 1.2 billion, the population
in developing nations would surge by 55 percent
to over 8 billion. Countries in Africa and
south Asia would see the largest increases.
China, currently the world's most populous nation
at 1.3 billion, would see an overall 10 percent
increase between now and 2050 to over 1.4 billion
in 2050, but its peak population is anticipated
to be reached by 2025, with a decline thereafter.
By 2050, India is expected to overtake China,
rising almost 50 percent from under 1.1 billion
now to 1.6 billion at midcentury. Nigeria's
population would nearly triple to 307 million.
Bangladesh's would double to 280 million.
The trends could change further depending on
how successful doctors are in treating AIDS
infections and reducing infant mortality rates,
and how prevalent contraceptive use and family
planning become in developing nations.
The Population Reference Bureau is supported
by government, foundation and other grants.
Haub's projections were based on data from
foreign governments, the United Nations and
the US Census Bureau.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
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