Magazine article The Spectator

Fatal Misconception

Magazine article The Spectator

Fatal Misconception

Article excerpt

At some point this weekend, if the United Nations is to be believed, the world population will reach seven billion. Almost as many words will be written on the perils of a booming population, on how humans are overburdening the planet and how - if current trends continue - the world will end up looking like Hamley's on Christmas Eve.

In fact, as man grows richer, he tends to breed less. Look closely at the UN data and it shows that, in several prosperous countries, fertility is already below the replacement rate of 2.1 babies. Extrapolate the UN's medium-case estimates and you find that the world population will peak (at ten billion) by the end of this century. Then the decline starts, with the world's supply of Americans running out in December 2400, and the last Frenchman keeling over in January 2501. …

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