• Rose Smith

Humanity—We Are Aging and Shrinking

Children in a Park

Photo Source: Pexels

In regard to foreign countries, while there are inevitably differences between cultures, down to social behaviors and geography, there are trends that seem to pop up across the world. For instance, as a whole, our population growth rate is currently shrinking, and the current average age of our populace is growing.

The worldwide population is aging (Pew Research). The average age of people in the United States and worldwide is going up. Additionally, the population growth is decreasing both in the United States and worldwide. For some countries, this has been a good thing (Pew Research Center). It’s been predicted that countries like Kenya and Nigeria can expect an economic uptick due to the amount of young people coming into the workforce. For these countries, the population is actually aging into the workforce, allowing for more young workers to fuel economic growth. For others, especially Japan, this has proven to be a much more ominous trend. While at this moment the Japanese economy has been doing well and steadily growing, experts predict that growth will not last that long due to the fact that Japan’s population is aging, and its young population is beginning to be unable to sustain its elders (The Independent). While the United States is not in the same exact situation as Japan, it is worthy to note that our population growth is also slowing down, and our population is also aging, as are other countries, including China and other European countries (Pew Research Center).

It is also worthy to note that the social climate within the United States and Japan have some interesting parallels which perhaps can unlock some of these issues. Between the United States and Japan, both are seeing a rise in young people not getting together. In the United States, 2017 surveys show that 42% of American adults are living without a spouse, which is up from 39% in 2007 (Pew Research Center). The majority of young people are living without a spouse or partner. The share of people who are living with a romantic partner has risen recently, but that isn’t enough to account for the decline in marriages. Part of this trend can be pointed to the fact that young people are simply not having as much sex in comparison to other generations (Forbes). Some experts point to the idea that technology has caused a decline in sexual activity, and others point to the fact that young people are currently preferring to pursue their careers and do not want to be tied down by a relationship. Japanese women have deferred marriage in favor of employment, but sometimes it’s not always by choice (The Atlantic). For both men and women, there has been a rise in Japan of freelance work as opposed to steady jobs at corporations. These freelance jobs often do not pay as much as a normal job would, and they often come with much less security. Even if they wanted to have children, the couple would not have the means or security to bring a child into the world. Russia is also facing a population decline problem, as statistics show that Russia is set to lose 700,000-800,000 citizens per year (ThoughtCo.). There is a combination of a very low birth rate and a very high death rate. With high rates of alcoholism and deep economic hardship, couples are feeling discouraged from having children. In other European countries, economic troubles has deterred couples from having children (The Guardian). Spain’s population has been shrinking since 2012. The average population is aging, while a lot of couples migrated out of the country for better prospects, as Spain has been facing economic issues.

Worldwide, the population is aging and shrinking. Couples are not getting together and having kids like they used to. Sometimes it has to do with economic issues, and in other times, it has to do with couples simply not getting together to have children. For some countries, like Nigeria and Kenya, this has actually allowed for more possible economic growth, as the population is aging into a working age. In countries such as Japan, this trend may prove to be less positive for economic growth.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.