Well, maybe that headline is a bit of an exaggeration; Lithuania is
hardly a European power. (Although Poland-Lithuania used to be one of the
largest sixteenth century realms…so maybe this is merely a continuation of its
decline from those lofty heights!)
Latest figures out from the Lithuanian census show a
population that declined 10% in the past 10 years from 3.4 million in 2001 to
3.05 million today. When the country emerged from the USSR it had a population of
3.7 million. The decline is being blamed on emigration and a birth rate that is well below
the replacement rate. The trouble is that emigration is not necessarily permanent;
a country can entice its citizens back through becoming an attractive place to
live again. However, if the country is failing to reproduce then it will be unable to grow economically and to become enticing to its
overseas citizens again.
I wonder what Lithuania will do with this sort of news? I wonder if there is anything it can do? Is a fundamental cultural-shift required so that Lithuanians start having more than the replaement level of babies again?
On another note, here is the press release from the UN
setting out its predictions for the world’s population until 2100. Have a look
at the graphs setting out its predictions for low, medium and high fertility
countries. While it is interesting, I take it all with a grain of salt. I don’t
think anyone in 1911 would have been able to predict with any confidence the population
in the year 2000. But headlines screaming “Population to hit 10 billion says UN”
certainly gets a lot of attention. And as you can tell from today’s post, I love attention grabbing headlines!
PS Those of you worried about the population “explosion”
should be happy that at least some of the Earth’s population will be carried up
to heaven tomorrow while the rest will likely be wiped out by the Apocalypse.
That should mean that the world’s resources are freed up for future generations to use…which
can only be a good thing right? (I bet you that the UN didn’t take the Apocalypse into account when it released its population predictions.)