Canada is going to shore up its economy in the coming decades by leading the world in attracting more immigrants than it exports emigrants for the size of its population than any other country on Earth, forecasts a new study.
In the study, published in The Lancet, a highly-respected medical journal, experts looked at current trends in mortality and fertility rates and modeled likely scenarios for the future of immigration and population growth for 195 countries.
The ongoing trend towards more education for girls and women and easier access to contraception around the world is going to accelerate the decline in fertility rates and slow population growth.
By the year 2064, the study’s authors expect the world’s population will peak at 9.73 billion.
Then, it will slide back down to 8.79 billion in a little more than three decades. By the year 2100, it’s expected the planet will have seen a population drop of 940 million, almost twice as many people as currently live in all of North America, including the United States, Canada and Mexico, from its peak population figure.
Canada’s own population is expected to mushroom to almost 44.1 million people with a fertility rate of 1.58 children per woman by the year 2100 but, under an alternative scenario put forth by the study, could be even lower than today’s current population of about 37.6 million people.
Under that sustainable development goal model, which would see Canada fully adopt the policies set out in the United Nations’ Family Planning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development data booklet, the Canadian population in 2100 could be only 37.1 million and the fertility rate could be a paltry 1.37.
That, the experts say, would have serious repercussions for not only Canada but also all the other economies of the world.
“A sustained (total fertility rate) lower than the replacement level in many countries, including China and India, would have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences,” they state. “Policy options to adapt to continued low fertility, while sustaining and enhancing female reproductive health, will be crucial in the years to come.”
The study’s authors tout liberal immigration policies that already exist in countries like Canada as being a ready solution to the economic hardships that would otherwise be caused by a declining population.
“For high-income countries with fertility rates lower than the replacement level, the most immediate solution is liberal immigration policies. Among high-income countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the (United States of America) have consistently pursued this approach in the past 30 years,” the study states.
“As long as these immigration policies continue, our reference scenario showed sustained population growth and workforce expansion in these countries, with concomitant economic growth.”
But not everyone is on board with liberal immigration policies.
In the United States, these policies have faced a political backlash in the past few years. And Japan, Hungary, Slovakia, the Baltic states, and several other countries have so far chosen not to boost immigration as a way to deal with their declines in population.
“In these societies, so far, the desire to maintain a linguistic and culturally homogeneous society has outweighed the economic, fiscal, and geopolitical risks of declining populations,” state the experts.
The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, states that liberal immigration with effective assimilation into these societies is the best strategy for economic growth, fiscal stability, and geopolitical security.
“Some countries with fertility lower than replacement level, such as the USA, Australia, and Canada, will probably maintain their working-age populations through net immigration,” state the authors of the study. “Our forecasts for a shrinking global population have positive implications for the environment, climate change, and food production, but possible negative implications for labour forces, economic growth, and social support systems in parts of the world with the greatest fertility declines.”
The United Nations’ sustainable development guidelines booklet calls on all countries to up their commitments to abortion, contraception and other reproductive healthcare for women.
“Access to family planning is not only related to women’s reproductive rights and the reduction of unintended pregnancies, but also to improved health and nutritional status of children, brought about by longer birth spacing and the reduction in maternal mortality,” states the UN’s Family Planning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development data booklet.
“Redefining the global strategy for achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and identifying possible avenues for improved access is important to guarantee and improve the progress of countries that are most in need,” maintains the international organization.