Demography: A tale of three islands | The Economist. Who’d have thought one could learn so much about demography.

Despite the exponential chart, would you have guessed that 3.2 billion people live in countries with a fertility rate of 2.1 or less and that Brazil, Tunisia and Thailand are below replacement rate.

Standing-room only?

Most of the world has now had its demographic dividend (when lower fertility rates mean that there are relatively few children, older people and a large number of economically active adults create economic growth). While Japan will be the oldest population the world has known by 2050, it is China that is most surprising: it will be older than America in the 202s and than Europe in the 2030s.

The author’s conclusion is spot on:

If you look at the overall size of the world’s population, then, the picture is one of falling fertility, decelerating growth and a gradual return to the flat population level of the 18th century. But below the surface societies are being churned up in ways not seen in the much more static pre-industrial world.