Global population shift

The world's declining population

World population decline. Credit: Lightspring/

New research has revealed that 75 per cent of the world will see a decrease in population by the year 2050.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington unveiled a startling forecast which indicated that three-quarters of the world’s countries will witness a population decline by 2050, climbing to 97 per cent by 2100.

Europe’s ageing dilemma

In Europe, the ageing population phenomenon is not new, yet its expansion on a global scale is noteworthy. This trend is primarily attributed to falling birth rates, with a global average anticipated to drop from 1.83 children per woman in 2050 to 1.59 by 2100.

Spain epitomises this trend within the European Union, with Spanish women expected to have, on average, 1.23 children by 2050, declining further to 1.11 by 2100. This represents a significant fall from the 2.47 children per woman recorded in 1950.

Fertility rates and global implications

Comparatively, Spain’s fertility rates are lower than many of its European neighbours. For instance, France reported an average of 1.83 children per woman in 2020. This disparity highlights the broader issue of declining fertility rates across the continent and beyond.

As the world population crossed the 8 billion mark in November 2022, it’s projected to grow by nearly 2 billion over the next three decades, mainly due to higher birth rates in developing nations.

However, these regions are also expected to see a gradual decline in fertility rates, mirroring the trends observed in wealthier nations.


The study’s authors have cautioned that international migration, a temporary band-aid to Europe’s demographic challenges, will not suffice in the long run. They argue that the declining birth rate is becoming a universal phenomenon.

By 2100, India is projected to remain the most populous nation, having recently overtaken China, with Nigeria taking second place. Conversely, Latvia, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico are among those expected to see the sharpest population declines, with decreases of up to 78 per cent, 77 per cent, and 70 per cent, respectively.

This comprehensive study underscores the need for global preparedness in the face of shifting demographic landscapes, challenging countries to adapt to an increasingly aged population while balancing migration and fertility rates.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.