Symptoms of the global demographic decline

Translated by Demographia.ru | Original version in Russian

\"\" Igor Beloborodov, Ph.D, Editor-in-Chief of  Demographia.ru, member of  the Expert Council of the CIS Affairs Committee of the Council of the Russian Federation, Director of  Demographic Research Institute (Moscow), Head of the Charity Fund for Protection of Family, Motherhood and Childhood (the first Russian crisis pregnancy center), Vice Chairman of the All-Russian public organization “For life and protection of family values”

E-mail: demographia@demographia.ru

\"\"Based on the paper
Family Degradation in the Context of Demographic Changes. 
Global depopulation as a consequence of value crisis

prepared for the round table discussion
“Family: Origins and Future of Civilizations”
took place within the framework of
World Public Forum
“Dialogue of Civilizations”
(October 7–11, 2010, Greece, Rhodes)

The time we live in will surely go down in history as a period of great changes. The entire second half of the 20th century along with the beginning of the 21st century is really an epoch of exceptional technological innovations, scientific discoveries and significant social progress.

Space exploration, IT, medicine, service industry, education, social safety nets—all these and more have been progressing at an unprecedented pace. As a result, human abilities as well as the intellectual and technological potential of humankind have increased tremendously.

Nevertheless, there are also negative processes against the background of this material and technological success. The human being has started to degrade both spiritually and morally. The world has been overwhelmed by such phenomena—marginal in previous times—as euthanasia, pornography, homosexuality, concubinage, mass adultery, divorces, promiscuity (leading to AIDS and venereal disease epidemics), teen pregnancy, abortion, fetal therapy, one- or two-child families, rejection of procreation (childlessness by choice, or child free phenomenon).

But in pursuit of material wealth, the humankind has unhappily forgotten about the family. And this fact makes the expert community feel apprehension about our demographic future. Family was always an absolutely natural form of human existence and, as it seemed, was not something to worry about.

However, today the traditional family (i.e. the family that consists of two parents and several children) is experiencing real crisis; and if appropriate steps to save the family are not urgently taken, it can leave the stage of history forever.

Having allowed the anti-family ideology of so-called “family planning” to dominate in the society, the humankind has set out on the path towards its imminent death—physical, historical, and spiritual.

Here, it is important to note that when speaking of the family we mean the basic social unit (the arche) defined by the following inherent attributes.

A family is a union of a man and a woman, which

  • voluntarily entered into legal or/and ceremonial marriage;
  • initially intend to be together for life;
  • live together and share a common household;
  • want to reproduce themselves both biologically and socially.

Demographic Evolution: Failed Overpopulation or Forthcoming Depopulation?

Contrary to the statements of liberal-minded demographers and sociologists, the today\'s family crisis is not a natural process. Could the extinction of entire nations even be considered natural? It is possible only for a misanthropic, Nazi-like ideology.

The destruction of family is actually caused by:

  • secularization of mass consciousness,
  • moving away from traditional values (including those of religious),
  • long-standing attacks of anti-family forces on traditional family values.

For a long time we have been threatened with global overpopulation. Family planning organizations as well as some funds acting under UN auspices did all their best to reduce birth rate in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and former Soviet Union countries. And what are the results?

The results have exceeded all expectations of traditional family opponents. The birth rate was not merely declined but literally crashed. However, once this has happened, not a single government in the world, not a single scientist or an expert group has offered anything to achieve the reverse effect.

The humankind has found a way to reduce fertility, but now nobody knows how to raise it back.

Rate of Population Reproduction Change

In the nearest future, according to all existing demographic forecasts, the growth of world population will be steadily slowing down and finally have transformed itself into a depopulating trend.

The most probable demographic forecast, World Population Prospect, suggests that the rate of population reproduction over the period 2005–2050 will change in the following way as compared to the period 1950–1975 [1]:

Table 1 — Average Annual Rate of Population Change
(The World and Regions, 1950-2050), %

Regions 1950—1975 2005—2050 
World 1.92 0.38
Developed countries 1.01 -0.30
Africa 2.47 1.35
Asia 2.16 0.26
Europe 0.84 -0.60
Latin America 2.62 0.34
North America 1.4 0.28
Oceania 2.03 0.48

According to the data provided in the table, the rate of population growth in 2005–2050 will be:

  • more than 5 times less over the whole world;
  • 1.83 times less in Africa;
  • 8.3 times less in Asia;
  • 7.7 times less in Latin America;
  • 5 times less in North America;
  • 4.3 times less in Oceania.

In two groups of countries, the demographic trends are going to be sharply negative:

  • –0.3% in developed countries;
  • –0.6% in European countries.

Even China—the indisputable population front runner—will face negative figures of fertility rate in the medium term. Already by 2048, China\'s population will start to rapidly decline.

During the same period, the rate of population growth in India—the second demographic leader—will 5 times slow down: from 2 percent to 0.4 percent.

It should be emphasized that the historical low peacetime fertility (0.7 children per one woman) was recently reached precisely in Asia—in Macau and Hong Kong (special administrative regions of China).

Many European countries have also faced population decline. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, and Poland are now dying out states with many thousands of annual population losses. Practically, all Europe became a region of increasing depopulation.

Only in some European countries (France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands) the negative demographic trends are still being moderated by immigration. However, the immigration flow will soon have run its course, and after that the ruthless depopulation will engulf the whole of Europe.

Fertility Decline is the Key Family and Demographic Problem

The main statement of this article is that the global fertility decline is the fundamental demographic problem of the human race. And the reason for the decline is that the family has ceased to perform its main function—the function that for thousands of years has provided reproduction of new generations.

But it is the fertility—not the longevity or immigration—that is crucial to the human reproduction.

It gives new members to the society; it guarantees stability to families (in addition to the naturalness of having children). Not coincidentally, the family decay possibility decreases with every new child born, according to the divorce statistics.


Further, the world demographic and family trends will be represented.

The study of reproductive behavior characteristics in different parts of the world has revealed a widespread decrease of the average number of children born by a woman. Over the last 18–20 years, the fertility rate declined rather rapidly and now it does not reach 5 children per woman even in Africa, where only a few decades ago the total fertility rate fluctuated around 7 children per woman.


Figure 1. The total fertility rate, as it declines in different parts of the world, 1990–2008.

The chart on Figure 2, where a change in fertility over the past 20 years (1990–2010) in ten most populous countries is shown, vividly illustrates the onrushing demographic disaster.

It is also remarkable that the countries of this Top10—China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia, and Japan—cover almost all continents and include followers of all the world’s major religions. The total population of the Top10 is about 4 billion, which is the majority of the world population.


Figure 2. The change in total fertility rates over the 1990—2010 decade
in the world\'s most populous countries.

Now let us take a wider time interval and look not only at the “leaders.” The chart on Figure 3 shows how total fertility rates of 18 industrially developed countries reduced during the period from 1950 up to the present day.


Figure 3. Fertility decline in 18 industrially developed countries
over the last 60 decades (1950—2010)

As you can see on Figure 3, each country\'s curve steadily drops down. Although different continents and even different civilizations are shown on the chart, the demographic diagnosis is the same for all of them: explicit or temporarily latent depopulation.

The next chart (see Figure 4) shows a retrospective comparison of birth rates in 20 European countries over the period of last 100 years. In this case, the situation is even sadder: the fertility drop looks especially dramatic when we compare the today\'s birth rates with those in the beginning of the 20th century.

The birth rates in Eastern Orthodox countries—Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania—stand out among the highest 100-years-old birth rates on the chart (the most highest was precisely in Russia). It is well known that the Orthodox doctrine considers the family as one of the most important values. However, since having moved away from their cultural and religious roots, these countries have become leaders in reducing fertility and abortions (which are discussed below).


Figure 4. Crude birth rates (number of births per 1000 people per year)
in some European countries 100 years ago and today.


Abortions are one of the most distressing aspects of degradation of the family.

According to various sources, 50–60 million abortions are performed world wide each year. This means that 137–164 thousand unborn children are killed every day in the world. More than 6,000 abortions are carried out every hour. While you are reading this text, 3,000 innocent babies are being lost.

In Russia, 2–2.5 million abortions are performed annually. I am ashamed to say that our country was the first to legalize abortions—in 1920, i.e. about 40–50 years earlier than in Western countries and 36–37 years earlier that in socialist countries of Easter Europe (Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania—in 1956, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia—in 1957).

Currently, abortions are not only the violent way of denial of the future but also a brutal kind of discrimination. Sex-selective abortions in China, India, the Caucasus and Central Asia—when couples prefer to give birth only to children of a particular sex (usually male)—have become horrifically widespread. 

In China, this has led to a serious sex ratio imbalance: young men outnumber young women by more than 30 million.

Under pressure of international anti-family organizations, including various UN agencies, many countries have been making a choice against life.

In 2007, they were joined by Portugal, which passed a law allowing abortion on demand. In the same year, the State Congress of Mexico City legalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In 2009, Spain passed another permissive law, which allowed unrestricted abortion at up to 14 weeks.

On Figure 5 you can see a so-called “abortion map” showing the legal regulation of abortion in all countries of the world.


   Legal on request    Illegal with exception for maternal life, health, and/or mental health
   Legal for rape, maternal life, health, mental health, socioeconomic factors, and/or fetal defects.    Illegal with no exceptions
   Illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, fetal defects, and/or mental health    Varies
   Illegal with exception for rape, maternal life, health, and/or mental health    No information.

Figure 5. Legal regulation of abortion in the world
(September, 2010)

Diminishing of the Prestige of Marriage

Increase of the age of marriage

The growing average age of marriage is another indicator of the family\'s ill-being. This trend has spread to many countries; and it means that not only more time is required to obtain education and to realize career aspirations but that the life priorities have significantly changed. The family is now less regarded as a form of self-actualization.

The increase of age of marriage also causes:

  • a higher probability of sexually transmitted infections (due to extramarital sexual relations);
  • reproductive health deterioration;
  • a decrease in the period of potential reproduction.

Additionally, the medical community thinks that giving birth to the first child after age of 28 (and even after 25) is a definite risk factor. This critical age, as it is shown on Figure 6, has long been exceeded in many countries.


Figure 6. The average age at first marriage for women in some countries
in the late 19th and early 21st century.

Illegitimate births

The today\'s unprecedentedly high rate of extramarital births is another vivid illustration of the family and demographic crisis.

On the one hand, out-of-wedlock births are caused by widespread cohabitation; on the other hand, by growing orientation towards promiscuous sexual relation. Both the reasons, in turn, are caused by diminishing of the prestige of lawful wedlock in the eyes of the modern young people.


Figure 7. Illegitimate births in industrially developed countries,
1950—2008, %

Marital fidelity and monogamy are being replaced by a social chaos in the form of so-called serial monogamy and promiscuity (a primitive form of sexual relations).

In the U.S., more than 5 percent of men have several children simultaneously in different families; and the men themselves are often not aware of it. In Britain, every 10th child is brought up by a man who mistakenly believes he is the father of the child. In Sweden and Estonia, almost 60 percent of all the children are born out of wedlock.

In these countries, where the majority of population chooses anti-family behaviour, the family is actually becoming history.


An important indicator of the family stability is the divorce rate.

For many decades, there have been two world\'s leaders in divorces—Russia and the the U.S.

The Divorce Top10 (divorces per 1000 population in the year 2000) is as follows:

  • the U.S.—4.7;
  • Russia—4.3;
  • Belarus—4.3;
  • Ukraine—4.0;
  • Estonia—3.1;
  • Lithuania and the Czech Republic—2.9;
  • Finland—2.7;
  • Latvia—2.6.

At the same time, we can see a significant gap between the Top10 and another group of countries, which have a much lower divorce rate. For example, in the same year (2000), there were only 0.9 divorces per 1000 population in Greece, 0.8 in Uzbekistan, 0.7 in Azerbaijan and Macedonia, 0.4 in Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan. [2].

Nevertheless, in spite of the differences in the statistics, a global trend of divorce rate increase is perfectly evident. 


Figure 8. Divorce rate evolution in 19 industrially developed countries
for the period 1950–2008.

Cultivation of vice

Abortions, divorces and out-of-wedlock births are not something that comes naturally. They are the results of the general moral decline and anti-family propaganda.

We are witnessing an intensive cultivation of vice in the world. Even marital intimacy has lost its basic meaning. The motivation of sexual relations is changing dramatically. Respondents of a survey carried out in the U.S. in August, 2007 mentioned 237 reasons for having sex. The wish to propagate the species didn’t rank among even the Top50.

The increasing rate of prostitution is another terrible evidence of the social catastrophe. In India, there are 10 million women engaged in prostitution, in Thailand—2 million, in the U.S.—1 million, in Germany—200,000. 500,000 of women from Eastern Europe and 200,000 from the former Soviet Union are engaged in prostitution in Western Europe. And those are just the official figures.

Increasingly, children are forced into prostitution as well: 400,000 children in India, 320,000 in the U.S., 100,000 in the Philippines, 300,000 in Thailand, 500,000 in China.

In 2007, the annual turnover of the world’s pornography industry exceeded $60 billion, of which 12 billion were attributed to the United States. The porn video industry is a market worth €30 billion (thanks largely to the Internet)—twice the worth of the market of all the other video.

In the U.S., 10 percent of all the products being sold through the Internet have sexual connotations. Half of all the videos downloaded from commercial websites are child or pseudo-child pornography. There are about 10,000 sites for pedophiles in the WWW. 40 million adult men and children regularly visit porn websites. 12-17-years-old teenagers are the core audience of the online pornography. [3]

Another ethical and, at the same time, demographic problem is propaganda of homosexuality and attempts to legalize same-sex marriage.

Today it is officially allowed on four continents in such countries as Holland, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico, in some U.S. states. Besides, there are 20 countries with other legal forms of same sex unions. Some experts predict legalization of gay marriages also in China. According to Forbes, it is expected as early as 2019.


Now I have only to state that the modern family has a severe disease that entails tragic consequences for almost all spheres of human activity.

In this case, the successful returning of the family to the demographically healthy state will depend not so much on improving economic conditions, but mainly on its early spiritual and moral recovery.

Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe for treating the family’s disease. However, it is evident that the rehabilitation means system-wide work on the following areas:

  • changing the informational climate;
  • familistic expert examining of regulatory framework;
  • reorienting values and goals of school education;
  • improving health care and obstetrics;
  • familization of social policy, business and labor relations; applying new family-oriented approaches to housing policy, town-planning, etc.



[1]World Population Prospect: The Revision 2004;

[2]Savinov L. I., Kuznetsova B. Social Work with Children in families of divorced parents: Textbook, Ed. prof. L. I. Savinov.—3rd ed.—M. 2004. P.13

[3]Jacques Attali. Amours

Дата публикации: 2010-12-16 17:10:06