A distinct fertility divide has emerged in Western Europe in recent decades. Countries in Central and Southern Europe are reporting cohort fertility rates far below replacement level. Among these are the German-speaking countries, where fertility has long been at sub-replacement levels. In Germany, the cohort fertility rates for women born in 1960 are around 1.6. This is well below the figures for countries in north-western Europe which all register cohort fertility rates close to replacement levels. This includes United Kingdom (2.0), Belgium (1.9), France (2.1), and Denmark (1.9), among others. Recent forecasts by Myrskylä, Goldstein, and Cheng (2013) that extend to cohorts born in 1979 suggest that this divide is persistent and may even increase slightly over time.
In the span of the 20th century, the world’s population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion. Today, our globe is home to over 7.1 billion people and increases by 220,000 per day. Some are concerned that this growth is unsustainable and will further disease, hunger and the destruction of environmental resources. But in a new BBC programme, Don’t Panic: The Truth about Population, Hans Rosling wants to reassure us about the world’s surging population.