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- Global fertility rates have been declining, with one study saying populations will shrink by 2100.
- The population of Capracotta, a small town in Italy, has more than halved since 1991, to just 800 people.
- Experts say there are various reasons why couples are choosing to delay or opt out of parenting.
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In Capracotta, a small town in Italy, a building once used for kindergarten classes has turned into a nursing home.
“There were so many families, so many children,” Concetta D’Andrea, a nursing home resident, told the New York Times. “Now there is no one.”
While some experts worry the world will soon face a “demographic time bomb,” it seems to have already landed in some Italian towns. Capracotta’s population has more than halved since 1991. Activities that keep a city bustling, like shops and local sports, have closed or come to a halt.
In Agnone, another small town in Italy, former maternity ward nurse Enrica Sciullo told the New York Times she doesn’t hear babies’ cries anymore. The medical department has closed out of lack of need.
“Once you could hear the babies in the nursery cry, and it was like music,” Sciullo told the New York Times. “Now there is silence and a feeling of emptiness.”
Fertility rates have declined worldwide for various reasons
Worldwide, the average woman had 4.7 kids in 1950. That number fell to 2.4 by 2017, and experts predict the trend will only go downward in the future.
In the US, a CDC report, published in 2021, found that fertility rates hit an all-time low in 2020, dropping 4% from 2019. Even before this record-setting low, the fertility rates have been tumbling down for decades.
Experts say there could be various reasons to explain why couples are having fewer children or opting out of parenting altogether. Some people may choose to delay pregnancy until their careers are more established, so they can financially support a family. Others are living kid-free in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Teen pregnancies are down, too.
The pandemic, too, has halted people’s family planning, contributing to 2020’s all-time low birth rate. Haley Neidich previously told Insider she put off having a child in the thick of the pandemic because she wouldn’t be able to rely on family and friends for help.
Others may be putting off having a baby because pregnant people are at a higher risk of COVID-19 complications, and some people were forced to table their pregnancy plans because they needed fertility treatments that weren’t accessible.
Experts fear there won’t be enough people to support an aging population
There can be some benefits to a declining birth rate. Fewer children is good news for the climate, and, as Insider’s Hillary Hoffower wrote last week, America’s “baby bust” could be good news for the economy.
But expert troubled by the trend are concerned that young people are essential to support the economy and aging population.
“A paradigm shift is necessary,” Frank Swiaczny, a German demographer, told the New York Times. “Countries need to learn to live with and adapt to decline.”
After decades of this trend, there will be an exponential decline, Stuart Gietel Basten, an expert on Asian demographics, told the Times. “It becomes a cyclical mechanism,” Gietel said “It’s demographic momentum.”
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Source by www.msn.com