Country Comparison > Total fertility rate (unless indicated otherwise, the figures shown are as of January 2007)
There was a time, about 30 and more years ago, when the promoters of population control called for Zero-Population Growth. Zero-population growth requires a total fertility rate of 2.2 children per average woman of fertile age in a given country. Total fertility rates of less then 2.2 are indicators of population reduction, in effect not of Zero-population growth but of negative population growth.
As the list of total fertility rates for 217 countries shows, there are now 117 countries (all developed nations are amongst them) that have total fertility rates of 2.2 or less. That means that the population in the countries with total fertility rates of less than 2.2 are seeing declining populations, the more so the smaller their total fertility rates are. Nations with total fertility rates of about one are designated 4-2-1 countries, countries in whom one worker needs to support two non-productive parents and four non-productive grandparents.
More and more nations have declining total fertility rates that cause them to expect population reductions of 30 percent or more with every successive generation, with population shortfalls to varying extents compensated for through legal and illegal immigration from lesser-developed and underdeveloped nations (e. g.: in France and Germany through immigration from Islamic nations, in Canada through immigration from Asia, Africa and South-East Asia, and in the USA mainly through immigration from Mexico).
Still, the desired objective, the reduction of the world population to between 300 million and a billion people is a few generations off, perhaps a 150 years in all. It is hard to imagine what it will be that by then constitutes a developed nation, as by then there will insufficient numbers of people left that are able to keep them operational by the methods we have become accustomed to.
The question is whether the populations in the developed nations will get the chance to vanish in peace. The collapse of social safety nets (pension plans, old-age security and health-care systems) and of the infrastructure (utilities, sewers, road, rail and airline networks, and even of buildings) will become unavoidable. There will simply not be enough people working anymore to be able to pay the taxes required -let alone do the required work – to maintain them. The developed nations already increasingly suffer from shortages of workers, engineers and other skilled professions.
Update June 7, 2008:
Current total fertility rates (TFRs) for countries in the world – Rank Order. The web page accessible through the preceding link lists the rank order from highest to lowest, with a TFR of about 2.2 indicating a stable population. The TFR required to maintain a given country’s population varies a little from country to country, depending on the life expectancy for the average resident in that country. (Source: CIA World Factbook)
As of June 2008, the CIA World Factbook showed 104 countries (generally the richest and most developed) to have TFRs of less than 2.2. In other words, in those countries the population is in the process of shrinking. (Related Articles at Fathers for Life)