Replacement rate: Counting our chickens

Replacement rate: Counting our chickens
Image: Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi
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2.1—that’s how many children every woman “needs to have.” Any fewer, and a country’s population will eventually stop growing, age, and shrink, which could inhibit its economic growth and drain government coffers. But it’s easier said than done: China has been well below replacement rate for some time; India is just hitting that number. What happens to the world when 2.1 stops being a guarantee?

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Kira Bindrim is the host of the Quartz Obsession podcast. She is an executive editor who works on global newsroom coverage and email products. She is obsessed with reading and reality TV.

Tripti Lahiri is the Asia editor at Quartz, which mainly means China. She is obsessed with language learning apps, and terrace composting, and keeping up-to-date on Hong Kong’s covid rules.

Show notes

Definition (via the Singapore Government): “The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is a standard demographic indicator used internationally to estimate the average number of children that a woman would have over her childbearing years (i.e. age 15-49), based on current birth trends.”

Robert René Kuczynski, The Balance of Births and Deaths (1929)

South Korea’s replacement rate in 2020 was 0.84, the lowest in the world

Israel fertility rate in 2020 was 2.9, the highest among OECD countries

China’s ‘Later, longer, fewer‘ campaign (before its One-child policy)

Demographic dividend in India

Sweden’s childcare

France’s 35-hour work week

Declines in marriage in the US during the 20th century

Thomas Malthus, economist (1766-1834)

UN global population estimates through 2100

India has fallen to slightly below replacement rate

Current global median age is close to 31

This episode uses the following sounds from freesound.org:

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Read the full transcript here.