Declining fertility rates? Running out of babies? It’s an absurd idea that kind of sounds like it was taken right out of a sci-fi movie.
How would such a thing happen if birth rates have even increased in a few countries last year? (Yes, we’re looking at you, the Philippines and your “baby boom.”)
However, more countries are reporting historically low birth rates amidst the pandemic. As a result, fertility rates continue to decline on a global scale.
Yes, it’s a bad thing. Yes, your brand should certainly be concerned. But, why and what can you do about it?
Let’s discuss dropping sperm counts, changed lifestyles, environmental issues, religious beliefs, financial anxieties, and even the shrinking size of penises. (Seriously, if that doesn’t pique your curiosity, what will?)
Although, let’s take a look at our current situation first and discuss why we’re making such a fuss about this.
So, buckle up. Because we’re about to really dive in deep into this topic.
The current state of our global fertility rates
The world’s population is ageing and it’s a problem that many of us have been overlooking. The coronavirus pandemic also overshadowed this problem and made it worse.
For those who don’t know yet, the rate of fertility is the average number of babies that every female in a country gives birth to. The average must be around 2.1 babies for each female for a country to have a stable, balanced population. But unfortunately, countries aren’t meeting this ideal rate.
Because of this, plenty of countries are expecting their population to have fewer young people, starting in the next few decades.
To give you a better view of our global fertility rates, here are things you might be interested in becoming aware of (if you weren’t aware of them yet):
- The old-age dependency ratio in Europe has reached a record high, and studies expect this ratio to be at a worse state by 2040, maybe even earlier.
- By the year 2100, it is expected that half of the world’s children population (ages 0-4) will be from Africa.
- The one-child policy of China was a bad move that has disastrously backfired, giving birth (ironically) to their recent three-child policy. They are currently experiencing a population collapse and losing 400,000 people per year.
- Most of the world’s median age is currently above 30, with the “oldest countries” being Monaco (median age 53.1) and Japan (median age 47.3)
- The top 5 countries with the lowest fertility levels are developing countries in Asia.
The reason why declining fertility rates are a problem, and why your brand should care
Imagine a world where the number of pensioners overwhelmingly dominates the amount of young, enthusiastic workers. The streets are mostly empty. The majority of people you encounter are grey and elderly. (No offence to old people).
Sure, you may no longer be worrying about traffic. But it’s a quite depressing scenario, isn’t it?
But the reason why this is a problem is more than just having to live in a gloomy world in the future.
When the old-age dependency ratio becomes too high, our economy, our politics, and our way of living would suffer. On top of that, we are quite literally looking at the future of human extinction here.
How the world will be affected by a bad old-age dependency ratio
If we don’t fix this problem and the time arrives when “young people shortage” is already a real thing, our economy would be crying for help. These are the following scenarios that could possibly happen:
- Many products are going to have fewer consumers as purchase priorities change.
- We are going to have fewer jobs because there aren’t enough workers to fill them or because industries are failing.
- People will be saving up earlier for retirement because they know they won’t have enough support in the future. It will affect the flow of money.
- There will be a noticeable decrease in the demand for housing markets.
There just won’t be enough taxes to support our countries like we’re doing now. No, seriously, these are backed by studies.
As you would expect, when these happen, our public services would have lesser quality. Overall, our lives would drastically change.
As a band-aid solution, we would probably start paying so much in taxes or increase the retirement age (which some parts of the world have already done). Either way, this isn’t going to go well for us humans.
However, there’s still a good side to all this
Yin and yang, right?
As the world experience declining fertility rates and a major population reduction, the environment would instead be crying happy tears. What a way to turn the tables.
The demand for natural resources such as oil, fish, etc. would decrease along the way. Factories and other unnatural pollutants caused by different industries would lessen. Mother Earth will have some time to recover.
Although the result of this to our ecosystem is for a different topic.
Oh, and, the demand for nursing homes will increase.
Factors that cause declining fertility rates globally
We can’t figure out which actions can help decrease the likelihood of this terrible future if we don’t know the root cause of the problem. Well, here they are.
Studies have shown that dropping fertility trends happen much faster in urbanised cities.
This is why developing nations are the first to experience high population drops. Whereas, poverty-stricken countries like the Philippines and Indonesia even have higher fertility levels than recommended.
It does make sense. People living in the city have more financial anxieties and burdens because of the higher cost of living in urbanised locations than in rural areas. Hence, no room for many babies.
2. Better educated female population
As women (and families) become more educated, they realise the importance of proper family planning.
But most of all, they start to become busier and prioritise their careers. No matter how cute babies are, we can’t deny that they require a lot of time and attention. For many of these women, more children equal hindering their career growth.
Basically, the more educated a woman is, the less likely she is to have room for more kids.
3. Sperm count drop
Next up is the plummeting number of sperm men produce.
Studies have shown that in Western countries, sperm levels have decreased by more than 50% since the 1970s.
There are plenty of reasons for this, such as smoking, stress, drug use, sitting down for too long every day, and obesity. But the bottom line is, we humans are doing this to ourselves.
Obviously, the less sperm men can produce, the more difficult it is for families to reproduce.
How bad is it?
It is unlikely, but if sperm counts continue to fall at this rate, by 2045 we would be at the brink of human extinction.
The more likely scenario though is that by 2050, most couples are going to have to go through IVF if they want to have a child.
4. Reprotoxic chemicals
Reprotoxic chemicals can be found in what we know as the “forever chemicals” in plastics. These mess up our reproductive systems.
It’s a bit too much science for my brain to explain. But the important thing to point out here is, they are a big problem that the human race has once again, brought upon ourselves.
These chemicals cannot be broken down by the environment, nor by our bodies. The sad news is, most of us have ingested or have been ingesting them through tap water.
This is why chemicals with high reprotoxicity are also to blame for the decrease in sperm counts in areas that have bad water supply quality. Now you know why nations like the European Union have been strict when it comes to regulating plastic manufacturers despite the FDA giving go signals to use some of these chemicals.
Bonus fact: they are also the reason why penis sizes have been shrinking.
5. Less religious nations
Another possible reason is religion.
Apparently, the more religious a country is, the more likely they are to have more children. The thing is, more populations are becoming less religious as time passes.
Even Spain, the country known to have colonised several countries in the past to spread Christianity is becoming one of the least religious countries in the world now. According to studies, more than one-third of Spain’s population do not have a religion.
However, countries like Thailand who are highly religious also have low fertility, which makes this case arguable.
What do you think?
Reasons preventing Southeast Asian families to have more kids
Because we’re theAsianparent Insights, and since declining fertility rates are a growing problem in our continent, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to find out what’s preventing our Southeast Asian families from having more kids.
We weren’t surprised to know that they were mostly about lifestyle and financial reasons like what was expected based on existing theories.
What your brand can do to improve declining fertility rates in your country
Truthfully, this is more of a government problem and responsibility as they have more power to prevent these issues.
But there is strength in numbers. The more organisations working to alleviate our situation, the better. Who’s to say your brand can’t make a change and prevent your industry from completely falling apart in the future?
(Sorry, that was vicious. But, we’re just being real here.)
1. Increase awareness regarding this topic
Many young people are deciding not to have kids despite being financially capable because they don’t think the world is a safe place to live in for children anymore.
Although they are probably correct. The environment would only recover if we reduce our population. But, maybe we could somehow meet in the middle?
The possibility of this happening would be higher if more people were aware of the adverse effects of a shrinking population.
Consider running campaigns that address this topic in the future.
2. Highly flexible working schedules or arrangements
Giving your workforce a chance to work flexible schedules remotely would decrease the amount of time they have to spend outside, perhaps battling traffic. This could give them more opportunity to spend time with kids and motivate families to have more children.
The recent pandemic has revolutionised work arrangements anyway, so if you weren’t planning to, maybe it’s time to reconsider.
3. Promote immigration
Countries like Canada are hell-bent on promoting immigration because it’s the only thing that can save their population issues, for now. Finland has been starting to attract immigrants, too. Because despite being one of the happiest countries in the world, their population is at risk.
If your country has good immigration laws, it could be a good move to support the policy and hire more young, skilful immigrant workers.
4. Considerate parental leaves and benefits
Another thing that can alleviate financial and career worries is by being considerate to employees who have or want to have children.
Unfortunately, government subsidies alone aren’t enough for now. You could help make them sufficient.
5. Increase relevant environmental efforts
Last, but not the least, increase environmental efforts relevant to this issue.
Your next CSR could be providing filters to areas with bad quality water. You could start exploring product packaging that doesn’t involve plastic. We have to admit that we helped create the biological problems we’re experiencing globally, and only we can solve them, too.