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trueHUE® Water cooler stories
After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”
The authors John Ibbitson and Darrell Brickersat for an interview about how they arrived at a radical new outlook on the human race and its implications for future societies.
You traveled all over the globe to interview people for this book. What’s one image or conversation that really made the statistics jump off the page?
DB: We are in a slum in Delhi, and all these women have smartphones. Who can read. Who have data packages. And I was thinking, they have all of human knowledge in their hands now. What’s the impact of that going to be?
Well, what is it?
DB: But when I went and interviewed [the demographer] Wolfgang Lutz in Vienna, which was one of the first things we did, he walked me through his projections, and I walked out of the room gobsmacked. All he was doing was adding one new variable to the forecast: the level of improvement in female education. And he comes up with a much lower number for global population in 2100, somewhere between 8 billion and 9 billion.
JI: Lutz has this saying that the most important reproductive organ for human beings is your mind. That if you change how someone thinks about reproduction, you change everything. Based on his analysis, the single biggest effect on fertility is the education of women.
JI: We polled 26 countries asking women how many kids they want, and no matter where you go the answer tends to be around two. The external forces that used to dictate people having bigger families are disappearing everywhere. And that’s happening fastest in developing countries. In the Philippines, for example, fertility rates dropped from 3.7 percent to 2.7 percent from 2003 to 2018.