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Too few people?

After years of worrying about overpopulation, some demographers now predict that global population will peak in 2040 and then start a headlong dive. Nicholas Eberstadt looks at some of the curious consequences of a world without siblings

Over the past few years, some of the world’s best demographers have begun a dramatic reassessment of the world’s future. They are now seriously proposing that the world’s population, rather than continuing to increase, might peak in our lifetimes and then go into an indefi-nite decline in the generations immedia- tely ahead. This scenario is reflected in, among other studies, the UN Population Division’s biennial compendium, World Population Prospects-the oldest and largest contemporary attempt to outline future demographic trends. The current 1996 Revision includes “low variant” projections which anticipate zero population growth for the world as a whole by the…

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