In Japan, there were 811,604 births in 2021, compared to 1.44 million deaths. Similar to Japan, these are the 20 nations with the fastest declining populations.
The world population has been growing rapidly since the middle of the 20th century.
Although China and India have accounted for a large portion of this increase, analysts predict that Africa will see the next wave of growth. For instance, the average Niger woman has over six children in her lifetime as of 2019.
However, as Marcus Lu of Visual Capitalist explains below, there are a handful of nations that seem to be shrinking in terms of population at the other end of this spectrum. The top 20 nations by population loss have been represented visually to help explain this perhaps unexpected pattern.
The Top 20
Based on the predicted pace of change between 2020 and 2050 and using information from the United Nations, the following table ranks countries according to their rate of population loss.
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For reasons we will describe below, a lot of these nations are situated in or close to Eastern Europe.
The first problem is the birth rate, which has decreased since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). The average number of children per woman in the area decreased from 2.1 in 1988 to 1.2 in 1998.
Since then, birth rates have marginally increased, but not significantly enough to make up for the deaths and departure of citizens to other countries.
After the European Union’s (EU) border expansions in 2004 and 2007, Eastern Europe experienced many waves of emigration. According to the PIIE, 6.3 million Eastern Europeans lived in other EU countries as of 2016.
This dataset has two geographical outliers that are located on either side of Europe.
Japan is the first, where birth rates have been steadily declining since 1970. However, the country’s overall population did not start to decline until 2010.
The stats make the situation seem hopeless. In Japan, there were 811,604 births in 2021, compared to 1.44 million deaths. The island nation’s low birth rates have led to its high average age of 49, which is the highest in the world.
The Japanese government has implemented a number of social programs to increase the allure of having children, but these do not seem to be addressing the underlying issues. This piece from The Atlantic is well worth reading if you want more information about Japan’s low birthrates.
Cuba is the second nation and the only one outside the Eastern Hemisphere. Cuba has the lowest fertility rate in all of Latin America, with 1.7 children per woman. It is comparable to nations like Mexico (2.2), Paraguay (2.5), and Guatemala (3.0).
The immigration rate to Cuba is likewise exceptionally low when compared to its neighbors. Only 0.1% of the world’s population is made up of immigrants, according to the International Organization for Migration.