Brazil has joined the zero population growth club. Official statistics show that its fertility rate plummeted to 1.9 children per woman in 2007. This was even lower than previous rates estimated by the UN and the US Census Bureau. Brazil’s long-term fertility rate is now lower than the United States (2.1) and even than France (2.0).

The statisticians project that the birth rate in Latin America’s largest country will continue to move downwards. It has fallen from 5.3 children per woman in 1970 to 2.8 in 1990, and a projected 1.8 by 2010. The rate levels off at 1.5 children per woman by 2030.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, this sharp decline has major implications for the region's future population size, and signals significant population aging:

Brazil's population, nearly 190 million in 2008… is projected to reach 216.4 million by 2030, and then slip to 215.3 million by 2050. While the total population is projected to decline slightly between 2030 and 2050, for example, the number of Brazilians ages 65 or older is expected to grow by 70 percent.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.