Health & Wellness

The Countries With The Lowest Fertility In The World: Compare

South Korea is one of those countries in the world that is facing an acute decline in fertility rates. Nowadays, South Korean women are only having 0.72 children on average. A nation’s population must be slightly more than two in order for it to be stable. A little bit more, as not every child, regardless of where in the world, grows up to be a mid-adult.

In South Korea, the number of births has decreased even though the country’s governments have spent £226 billion in the last 20 years attempting to encourage women to have more children. The trade-offs associated with starting a family or a job, the high expense of private schooling, and the competitive upbringing in South Korean society play a significant part. But not a single instance of the terms “inequality,” “poverty,” or “destitution” appeared in the 2,500 words of the article. Perhaps such language is no longer acceptable for a public broadcaster representing the most economically unequal large nation in Europe.

Alternatively, it could be that we often perceive these problems as the result of millions of people making the decision not to have children, rather than as a component of a larger narrative.

The latest income inequality data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that South Korea ranks 11th out of all the countries it surveys in terms of inequality. The OECD compiles and updates these figures on a regular basis. However, there is no clear-cut link between a nation’s economic disparity and its population density. Israel ranks 10th and has a fertility rate of 2.9, making it somewhat more unequal than Korea.

With a fertility rate of 1.6, the UK ranks seventh in the world and is even more uneven. Despite being the fifth most unequal state in the wealthy world, the United States has a higher birth rate (1.7) than any other country.

So why is South Korea’s fertility rate so low? One important reason, according to French media, is the responsibility of “carrying out the brunt of household chores.” Al Jazeera claims that South Korea has “one of the worst gender pay gaps” in the OECD. The fact that “China recorded 1.09, also a record low, while Japan’s fertility rate hit a record low of 1.26 in 2022” was the point of emphasis for Reuters. The Guardian informed its readers a few weeks before the publication of the most recent story that “Britain’s birth rate is the lowest it has been in two decades” and blamed a variety of factors, including “millennial narcissism” and “cultural Marxism.”

Our existence is way beyond the statistical confines of national borders.

We should have mentioned that we are not alone in this world. Even though there are currently eight billion of us on the planet, all of these tales incessantly concentrate solely on what is happening in the wealthiest countries, as if the rest of us or the rest of nature do not exist.

The world as a whole passed the dramatic “peak baby” moment long ago—in 1990. The offspring of those newborns established a second peak, but it was hardly higher than the first. According to United Nations estimates, there won’t be any more huge peaks like this. Due to the fact that we are now living longer, our overall population will gradually increase from this point on.

Current forecasts indicate that our population will decline for the first time, unrelated to a disaster, in 2086. This date, when humans reach their pinnacle, will be significant in the history of a very young species.

I cannot begin to explain how the young men and women of the wealthy world come to the conclusion that there are enough of us on earth. However, it’s evident that the majority understands that there are enough children living abroad to support us for the rest of our lives if we just quit trying to “stop the boats” and stop whining about “poisoning the blood.” When a birth rate falls, we invariably display shock.

It seems practically everywhere, outside of war zones, that young adults realise, at least implicitly, that we should slow down. Worries about artificial intelligence, climate catastrophes, or any other relatively recent existential anxieties are not the cause of this phenomenon. We are aware of this because, some decades ago, birth rates in regions like Europe, Japan, and Korea started to decline. When a baby falls, we invariably display shock. But eventually, they must be for humans. For the most part, South Korea is just the furthest point in that trend. And since it is primarily an urban area, it is there at that edge.

All that occurs in the world has an impact on our behaviour. For some decades now, the number of babies born to each woman has been declining practically everywhere on the globe; nonetheless, the total number of children we have is already sufficient. There are no fresh worlds to colonise, and we are more conscious than ever of the consequences of attempting to establish someone else’s territory.

To put it succinctly, we are not alone. We inhabit densely populated cities across the globe that can support their current population and don’t require much more. We have created social security programmes that, with luck, will take care of us when we get old, and we won’t need to insure a second child. Above all, though, women are increasingly free to refuse suggestions made by the government, which has billions of pounds worth of incentives, especially in wealthier nations.

15 nations where the birth rate is falling

15. Belarus

Birth Rate Change: -5.3%

Belarus is currently experiencing a worrisome record low in the number of newborns in 2023, with just over 65,000 recorded, according to the Ministry of Justice. Belarus is ranked 15th on our list of nations with dropping birth rates in 2024. This is a startlingly low number—the lowest in the history of the nation.

14. The Korean Peninsula

Birth Rate Change: -5.7%

The United Nations Population Fund reported that North Korea’s fertility rate would be 1.8 in 2023, indicating a persistent fall over the last few decades. This is a worrying trend. Even with this drop, North Korea’s fertility rate is still higher than that of several of its neighbouring nations, which are likewise seeing a reduction.

13. France

Birth Rate Change: -6.5%

The entire population of France as of January 2023 is 68.0 million, up 0.3% from the previous year. It is included here in the list of nations with dropping birth rates in 2024, despite the fact that there were only 723,000 births in 2024—19,000 fewer than in 2021. Birth rates dropped once more in 2022, reaching a record low following a small uptick in 2021. The overall fertility rate decreased from 1.84 in 2021 to 1.80 children per woman in 2022. Prompt attention and action are necessary to address the ramifications of this concerning trend for the demography of each individual country.

12. Ireland

Birth Rate Change: -8.3%

Ireland saw a 1.5% reduction in births in 2022 compared to 2021, with 57,540 babies born. Even though the population was smaller ten years ago, in 2012, 71,674 children were born. This is a significant contrast. The year 2009 saw 75,554 births, marking the pinnacle of the Celtic Tiger baby boom.

11. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Birth Rate Change: -8.6%

According to recent polls, the Democratic Republic of the Congo customarily encourages large families, with women averaging six children and men seven. Nonetheless, recent data trends indicate a change in direction.

10. The Liberian Republic

Birth Rate Change: -9.9%

Liberia is tenth on our list of nations whose birth rates are expected to decline in 2024. The government of Liberia has been actively leading programmes to lower the number of teenage pregnancies and promote equal opportunities for girls. The dropping birth rate for the most recent year is the outcome of these efforts, which go beyond the health sector and highlight how urgent it is to address these important concerns.

9. Russia

Birth Rate Change: -10.1%

Due to the current state of instability in the political and economic spheres, Russia is experiencing its worst demographic crisis in recent memory, as seen by a notable drop in births. The demographic data raises serious concerns.

Russia’s natural population fell from 383,800 to 272,500 between January and June 2023, a dramatic 29% decline from the same period in 2022, according to data released in August 2023. In addition, there was a 3% decrease in the number of births, from 635,200 to 616,200, and a significant 12.8% decrease in deaths, from 1,019,000 to 888,700. Moreover, the population naturally declined in 2022, showing an astounding 42.5% fall from 1,042,675 in 2021 to 599,616. To confront this grave demographic issue in Russia, swift action is required.

8. Bahamas

Birth Rate Change: -10.5%

Maternal mortality rates in the Bahamas are alarmingly rising, with 77 women dying from pregnancy-related reasons for every 100,000 live births. By 2020, this ratio will have declined from 61 in 2000 to 77. These numbers, while below the regional norm, underscore the urgent need to address the Bahamas’ maternal health issues. The number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births is known as the maternal mortality ratio. To counteract this concerning tendency, quick action is required.

7. Zimbabwe

Birth Rate Change: -11.1%

With one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world, Zimbabwe, the seventh nation on our list of nations with dropping birth rates in 2024, is in a terrible condition. Pregnant women must take significant risks when giving birth at home. The inability to pay for medical expenses or the lack of money and resources in government institutions are frequently the driving forces behind this choice. Furthermore, cultural conventions force some women to consent to home deliveries performed by unskilled family members or neighbours, hence increasing the risks and difficulties experienced by expectant moms. We need immediate action to address these serious issues related to maternal health in Zimbabwe.

6. Norway

Birth Rate Change: -13.3%

Norway had 51,480 births in 2022—a number that, while impressive, actually represents a sharp drop in the nation’s fertility rate. With 4,500 fewer births than the year before and 1,500 fewer than in 2020, the actual number of infants also dropped dramatically. Remarkably, of the women from the ‘1992 cohort’ who became 30 years old in 2022, a startling 54 percent had never given birth. This worrying pattern emphasises how critical it is to confront and comprehend Norway’s dropping birth rates and their ramifications.

5. Turkmenistan

Birth Rate Change: -15.4%

In 2021, Azerbaijan saw a worrying reduction in the crude birth rate: 1.4 live births per 1,000 people, an 11.2% drop from 2020. The lowest value ever recorded was the result of this decrease. The fact that declining birth rates have been a consistent trend over the past few years must be noted in order to recognise and address the ramifications of this demographic transformation.

4. Belize

Birth Rate Change: -15.4%

With 1.9639 births per woman in 2024, Belize’s fertility rate is currently -0.82% lower than that of 2023, when it was 1.9801 births per woman. Predictions suggest a drastic decline in Belize’s fertility rate to 1.6816 children per woman by 2100, a drop of -14.37% from the current rate, which is unsettling. The rapidly declining fertility rate significantly affects Belize’s demographic landscape, necessitating swift attention and deliberate actions to reverse this worrying trend.

3. Moldova

Birth Rate Change: -15.6%

In 2021–2022, Moldova saw the greatest population decrease in its history. The decline was dramatic and worrisome. We blamed this reduction on both the significant exodus of Moldovans and the trend of negative population growth. An estimated 88,000 individuals departed from the nation during this period. In 2021, the Republic of Moldova experienced a record-breaking 16,000 more births than deaths. This pattern, however, drastically changed in 2022, with 9,200 more deaths than births. The last three years have seen a sharp and significant decline in the population, which emphasises how urgent action is required to confront this demographic disaster.

2. Republic of Costa Rica

Birth Rate Change: -25.1%

The percentage of Costa Ricans 65 and older has increased to 13.63%, or 710,417 people, which is a worrying change in the country’s demographics. Surprisingly, this number is more than 200,000 higher than INEC’s projections for the same year. One major factor fueling this trend is the drop in birth rates, which fell from 7.4 in 1950 to a record low of 1.3 in 2023. The report highlights the decreasing number of people under the age of 15, emphasising the impact of dropping birth rates even more. The country’s remarkable longevity and low death rates are factors in this changing demographic environment.

1. Ukraine

Birth Rate Change: -35.6%

The persistent conflict between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in extremely low birth rates, which pose serious demographic issues for Ukraine. There were only 93,500 babies born in the first half of 2023, a 28% drop from 2021, as a result of the fighting. The already diminishing fertility rate has gotten worse due to the flight of women and security concerns; it fell to 1.16 in 2021 and then by 25% the following year. Ukraine’s dramatic population reduction requires immediate attention.

Naisa V Melwyn

Naisa works as a Nursing Officer in the public sector, with a wealth of experience in healthcare spanning more than twenty years. She has a deep passion for nursing and finds great joy in providing care to others.

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