UN Calls for Population Control as Global Birthrates Decline

International   |   Bill Saunders   |   May 11, 2011   |   3:13PM   |   Washington, DC

At a time when we are experiencing a worldwide decline in birthrates, and many countries find themselves in a demographic crisis that will leave their nations in economic and social ruin if something doesn’t change, the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) continues to call for more population control.

Last week the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a projection that the world population will reach 7 billion on October 31 of this year. The UNFPA used this as an opportunity to call[1] for more family planning services in order to decrease fertility rates worldwide. This is a not so subtle call for more population control.

The call for population control is a false alarm. Birthrates are already dropping worldwide. Many countries have fertility rates that are well below replacement rate.

In order to maintain a steady population that does not increase and does not decrease, a country must have a fertility rate of 2.1. This is the replacement rate.  If each woman has an average of 2.1 children, she will replace herself and a man, and allow for the occasion in which some children will not make it to maturity in order to replace themselves. A fertility rate below 2.1 children per woman means that a country will not replace itself.

Russia is a perfect example of this. Today Russia’s population is disappearing. From 1985 to 1990, Russia had a fertility rate that just met replacement, 2.12 children per woman. Russia’s fertility rate dropped drastically from 2005 to 2010, to 1.44 children per woman.[2] Similarly, Russia’s total population has decreased from 148,244,000 people in 1990, to 142,958,000 in 2010.[3] That is a decrease of 5,268,000 people in 20 years. A significant factor is Russia’s declining birthrate is abortion. An unofficial estimate signifies that there are 4 million abortions a year in Russia as compared to only 1.7 million live births. [4]

The demographic crisis in Russia has prompted Prime Minister Valdimir Putin to say,

“Without exaggeration, the central problem of contemporary Russia is demography, strengthening the family, [and] increasing the birth rate.”[5]

Russia, recognizing its demographic crisis, is hosting the Moscow Demographic Summit on June 29-30 of this year. Russia is also providing monetary incentives to families that have more than one child.

Russia is not the only country with a fertility rate that is below replacement. Most of Europe is suffering from this demographic crisis. Italy, Spain, Germany, and Portugal and others had fertility rates close to 1.4 children per woman from 2005 to 2010.[6] Furthermore, worldwide fertility rates have dropped by nearly 50% since 1950.[7]

The population is continuing to rise because there were high birthrates in the 1950’s and 1960’s and people are living longer than ever before because of advances in medical technology and food production. However, the future of these countries will be determined by coming generations.

Countries with birthrates that are significantly below replacement rate face the challenge of decreased workforce, decreased consumption, and decreased ability to defend their borders. The impact of years of “population control” propaganda and abortion, on the world’s fertility has been devastating. Instead of continuing down that path, the United Nations should take a leaf out of Russia’s book and try to think of ways to strengthen the family and increase fertility worldwide.

[1] Press Release, United Nations Population Fund, World Population to Reach 7 Billion on 31 October (May 3, 2011), available at https://www.unfpa.org/public/cache/offonce/home/news/pid/7597

2 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision: Total fertility by major area, region and country, 1950-2100 (children per woman), available at https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/fertility.htm

3 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision: Total population (both sexes combined) by major area, region and country, annually for 1950-2100 (thousands), available at https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/population.htm

4 Don Feder, Putin Wants to Boost Russia’s Birthrate—World Congress of Families Says Place to Start is at Moscow Demographic Summit, Breaking Christian News (May 2, 2011), available at  https://www.lifenews.com/2011/04/25/russian-duma-drafts-bill-to-cut-abortions-citing-underpopulation/

5 Michael Cook, Moscow to host first demographic summit in Moscow in June, MercatorNet.com (April 5, 2011), available at https://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/8943/

6 See supra note 2.

7 See supra note 2.