United Nations Report Warns of Dire Effects of Underpopulation, Fertility Decline
by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
March 5, 2010
LifeNews.com Note: Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.
New York, NY (LifeNews.com/CFAM) — A recently-released United Nations (UN) report finds that the global trend of fertility decline and population aging will have devastating economic and societal effects on the developing world, particularly on women who are now targeted by UN agencies to further reduce fertility.
“World Population Ageing 2009” was published in December 2009 by the UN Population Division, a statistics research branch within the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
Because fertility is decreasing in the developing world, there will be fewer and fewer workers to support aging citizens, the report found. The ratio of workers to older non-workers dropped from 12 to 9 between 1950 and 2009. By 2050, there will be only 4 workers supporting every retiree: “The reduction of potential support ratios has important implications for social security schemes, particularly for pay-as-you-go pension systems under which taxes on current workers pay the pensions of retirees."
The effects of fertility decline and population aging will hit the developing world hardest, according to the report, because, "The pace of population ageing is faster in developing countries than in developed countries. Consequently, developing countries will have less time to adjust to the consequences of population ageing.” Furthermore, “ageing in developing countries is taking place at lower levels of socio-economic development than has been the case for developed countries.”
Evidence in the report shows that UN programs aimed at reducing fertility in the developed world will do the most harm to women who will have fewer children to support them in their old age. Since women live longer than men, they make up the majority of older persons.
This is compounded by the fact that “Older persons living alone are at greater risk of experiencing social isolation and economic deprivation and may therefore require special support." Social support, however, is often unavailable in the developing world where women are least likely to have social security from the state. What recourse they have to social safety nets has been diminished by the global economic downturn, which “brought about sharp reductions in the value of pension funds in many countries in the world.”
Fertility reduction in the developing world is still pushed by UN agencies such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization, as well as non-governmental organizations such as International Planned Parenthood Federation and Women Deliver, a new organization that is garnering significant funding from developed countries to promote fertility control.
The report offered little evidence of a possible reversal of the global aging trend, stating that “Population ageing is unprecedented, a process without parallel in the history of humanity. Population ageing is pervasive since it is affecting nearly all the countries of the world. …and “Population ageing is enduring. …As long as old-age mortality continues to decline and fertility remains low, the proportion of older persons will continue to increase."
The UN Population Division – an entity distinct from UNFPA – has traditionally been regarded as more objective and less agenda-driven than other UN agencies. In its most recent State of the World Population Report, UNFPA called for increased efforts to reduce fertility to combat climate change.
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