Women Around the World Are Having Fewer Babies

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Babies are cute. But given the choice, a lot of people want fewer of them. The University of Washington in Seattle just put out a massive study on global health trends and found that people around the world are having fewer babies.

Since 1950, average births per women have been cut in half (in the U.S., we went from three babies per woman to two). In over 90 countries, the average woman is having fewer than two babies, meaning these populations are set to shrink. This decline is largely going on in European countries.

"These statistics represent both a 'baby boom' for some nations and a 'baby bust' for others," explained Christopher Murray, a scientist at the University of Washington. "The lower rates of women's fertility clearly reflect not only access to and availability of reproductive health services, but also many women choosing to delay or forgo giving birth, as well as having more opportunities for education and employment."

This is one more study in the increasingly large pool of evidence that fertility rates are going down. One New Atlas article going around calls this trend "disturbing," and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. I guess they want our planet to keep collecting humans like Beanie Babies?

Decreasing global fertility is a good thing. It may be the best news for sustainability since ... Well, I have nothing to compare it to, since it probably tops the charts. Humans are the things causing all the environmental problems. We're the ones drilling oil, farming cattle, flying airplanes and all the rest. Fewer humans means more sustainability, period.

Not that populations everywhere are shrinking. Many places still have high fertility rates. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest; the average woman in Niger has seven children, same as in 1950. So there's still work to be done, like giving women in sub-Saharan Africa access to birth control and education. Still, overall, this sounds like pretty good news.