The 2 Reasons Populations Are Collapsing in Developed Countries Around the World

Jeffrey Goodman
9 min readAug 27, 2022

170 years ago, the average woman in the U.S. had at least 5 babies. Today that number is less than 2 and declining. What changed?

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Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

Roadmap for this article

  1. Introduction. Japan as a cautionary tale.
  2. Total fertility rates are declining in other countries, too.
  3. WHY have birth rates been declining?
  4. The population collapse happening around the world is being driven by 2 main factors.

Part 1. Introduction. What happened in Japan?

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Let’s go back in time to 1984 when the fertility rate in Japan was 1.81. This meant that the average Japanese woman was having 1.81 babies over the course of her life.

However, this was below the replacement rate for the population, which is around 2.10 births per woman.

By 1988, the fertility rate had dropped further to 1.66 births per woman. And this foreshadowed a substantial decrease in the Japanese population in the decades to come.

Jeffrey Goodman

Navigating facts and numbers to help people. Strong opinions on climate change and healthcare. Objective, not neutral. MIT engineer, Wharton MBA.