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"Graying" Developed Countries Face Economic and Security Risks
As the population in most developed countries stagnates or even declines over the next few decades, you might—at least at a first pass—welcome the thought. It could mean fewer clogged interstates, less competition for childcare services and, perhaps best of all, more alone time in parks, beaches and lakes. You can almost imagine the sounds of honking horns replaced with lapping waves.
But in a talk at the AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy, demographic expert Richard Jackson offered a less tranquil scenario. When a population fails to replace itself, "economic and social challenges are created," said Jackson, director and senior fellow in the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A generation ago, women in every developed country on average had more than 2.1 babies, the so-called replacement fertility rate needed to maintain the population. But now women are having fewer babies, and the U.S. fertility rate has dipped to replacement. The U.S. birth rate was 2.0 babies per woman in 2000-2005, down from 3.3 children in 1960-1965. Although the birth rate has fallen, the U.S. population is still expected to grow by 100 million by 2050—in stark contrast to the rest of the developed world, where populations will stagnate or decline.
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