Low birth rates may cause labor shortages in some industrialized nations

Low birth rates may cause labor shortages in some industrialized nations

Low birth rates in Western Europe and in industrialized countries in other parts of the world may cause their workforces and, ultimately, their economies to shrink, though the United States appears set to meet its labor force needs at least through mid-century, according to a recent study.

The Population Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan research organization that analyzes demographic trends throughout the world, asserts that a fertility rate of approximately 2.1 children to every woman is necessary to attain or maintain economic growth. The U.S. rate of 2.0 is boosted slightly by immigration, though the so-called baby boom generation is largely responsible for the current fertility rate baby boomers produced a baby boom of their own.

India, with a rapidly growing economy, boasts a fertility rate of 3.0, while China, largely considered the next great economic power, lags behind at 1.6 (down from 6.2 in the early 1950s). Some demographers think China will have a higher percentage of seniors than the United States by mid-century.

For more information about the study, visit www.prb.org.

Fertility Rates in

Selected Countries

India 3.0

South Africa 2.8

Indonesia 2.6

Mexico 2.6

Brazil 2.4

Unites States 2.0

France 1.9

China 1.6

Canada 1.5

Russia 1.4

Japan 1.3

Singapore 1.3

Spain 1.3

SOURCE: Population Reference

Bureau, 2005

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