The Population Collapse Is Here And It’s Our Fault

The worldwide population is falling and we are in for a major demographic collapse that will have far reaching consequences. Thinking about worldwide population requires long term thinking from a 10,000 foot level.  It’s important to have this perspective before diving into the world of population numbers because it’s almost impossible to see from a normal perspective.  For decades we were warned about over population.  We were told the Earth couldn’t possibly feed as many people that are projected to be born.  This warning ended up being dead wrong.  Not only have we mitigated this population boom disaster we were warned about, we have now entered a tailspin of falling birth rates that will ultimately lead to the collapse of the human race.  Oh and it was all Engineered on purpose, so there’s that.

The Population Problem:

We have dramatically falling birthrates, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.  In order for the population to stay the same the birthrate per woman must be at an average of 2.1 children.  Anything above this line and we have population growth.  Anything below this line we have population decline.

The problem with population decline is that it accelerates rapidly.  Let’s make the math as simple as possible.

If in Generation 1 we have 10,000 women who all reproduce at a rate of 2.1 per woman, then the next generation will have 10,000 women. If each subsequent generation did the same, then there would always be 10,000 women of reproductive age; a stable population.

Now Generation 2 reproduces at a rate of 1.5 children per woman.  A total of only around 7,500 women will be born for generation 3.

Generation 3 reproduces at a rate of 1.2 children per woman, remember Generation 3 started with 7,500 women. That generation with fewer total births now has fewer women giving birth.  Now there are only 4,500 women born in Generation 4.

By Generation 4 the norm is now 1 child per woman and they reproduce at a rate for 1.0.  Now there are only 2,250 women born into Generation 5.  If the birth rate never changes and stays at 1.0, then the population will be down to 23 women in just 5 more generations. It would only take 4 more generations for the human race to become extinct.  Even if by some miracle the birth rate increased to 2.1 in generation 5 we would still only be maintaining a quarter of the population we had just 100 years prior.

This population collapse also leads to an aging population.  Each earlier generation is substantially larger than the next one.  This means we will have tons of geriatrics and few young innovators. Having few young people to take care of the old, to work, and to of course produce and raise children is a bad situation. Not only are there fewer able bodied people with new ideas, these people have very minimal voting rights as a block, because they are significantly outnumbered by the elderly.

You may think these numbers are way too pessimistic, but half of the countries in the world have a reproduction rate lower than 2.1.  The bottom 15 countries are at 1.3 or below, with 2 countries at or below 1.0.

  1. South Korea – 0.9
  2. Puerto Rico (U.S. territory) – 1.0
  3. Hong Kong (China SAR) – 1.1 (tie)
  4. Malta – 1.1 (tie)
  5. Singapore – 1.1 (tie)
  6. Macau (China SAR) – 1.2 (tie)
  7. Ukraine – 1.2 (tie)
  8. Spain – 1.2 (tie)
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina – 1.3 (tie)
  10. San Marino – 1.3 (tie)
  11. Moldova – 1.3 (tie)
  12. Italy – 1.3 (tie)
  13. Andorra – 1.3 (tie)
  14. Cyprus – 1.3 (tie)
  15. Luxembourg – 1.3 (tie)

We are in an absolute crisis over the next 100 years.  What’s more, is that the numbers are not always equal.  Take China as the most stunning example.  To stem a population boom the country could not feed, China implemented a one child policy to purposefully create a population collapse. This policy was in place from 1980 to 2015.  Well, parents had a strong preference for their one child to be a male, because that male could support them in old age.  Millions of Chinese girls were either never born or were killed shortly after birth.  Now there are 30 million men in China who will never have wives as the opposing 30 million women were never born, and this is only counting the men of marrying age now.  The one child policy lasted until 2015, there is still another generation to come, so likely there is another 30 million women who were never born.  This steepens the generational decline because there are fewer women to have babies.

We also have a problem of perception because birth rates are a lagging indicator of total population. Most people look at the total current population and the year to year change, but the falling birth rate won’t show up in the total population numbers for many years due to larger previous generations that are still alive.  It’s when those larger generations start dying off that we see the population decline, decades after birth rates have fallen.

Population Stabilization:

For decades the goal of most government entities was to stave off over population by reaching population stabilization.  In general, women have more children when their children are more likely to die.  When early childhood mortality is reduced, the need for having more children is reduced, and fewer children are born. Education is also another major factor. The more education women receive, the fewer children they are likely to have. With a major initiative over the last 40 years to reduce early childhood death, reduce poverty, and increase education, the population growth of every country these actions have taken place in has dropped dramatically.  Unfortunately stabilization appears to not happen.  Society has tended to keep going below the replacement rate. So this is how the population boom was primarily averted, rather than birth rates dropping to the stabilizing 2.1 when poverty, childhood mortality, education, and access to family planning tools improved, it kept dropping below 2.1 children per woman.

How Many Children To Have?

When we look at a woman’s decision of having children we have 2 separate categories.  We have the ideal number of children women would like to have and we have the number of children women feel comfortable producing.  Let’s address these separately.

The number of children women feel comfortable having is predicated on many factors and is often a smaller number than the number they would like to have.  Our world puts a ton of pressure on women and young people in particular that makes having children not an optimal life choice.

Pressures that reduce the number of children women feel comfortable having:

Financial: This is the big one.  Having children over the last century, and especially during the last 40 years has become a large cash flow negative proposition.  This is due to many real pressures of increasing costs and stagnant wages as well as the advent of redefining a child’s role in the household.

Children are Liabilities: Children for most of human history were able to earn their keep by the time they were 6.  They did this by providing labor on the family farm for most of agrarian history, assisting in a home based business, or working in factories.  Child labor laws ended children working in factories and the number of family farms has greatly reduced.  Seeking the “safety” of a steady paycheck more people have been pushed through college and into the 9-5 workforce, greatly reducing family businesses.  The role of children has become going to K-12 government compulsory education and playing.  Children under 18 rarely contribute economically to the household. Not only are there far fewer family farms, but there are also far fewer family businesses, with the vast majority of our economy being “job based”.  Most states greatly limit employment opportunities for children under 16.

Inflation: Richard Nixon destroyed our money supply in 1971 when he severed the dollar from the tie to gold.  Since then inflation has run amok.  In 1970 an ounce of gold was about $40 and today it is $1,856.  Some costs have risen faster than normal inflation and those have largely been college, health care, housing, and child care; all items that are necessities when choosing to have children.  These costs have far exceeded the pace of wage increases, which greatly squeezed people just starting out, people in prime reproductive age.

As a direct result of the inflation caused by exiting the gold standard more women entered the workforce.  In 1970 38% of women were in the workforce, by 1999 it was 60%.  This is a massive shift. A 2 earner household is the norm.  With 2 people needing to make the income to get by, who will raise the children? Now we have child care costs.

Women In The Workforce: Throughout most of human history women raised the children at home with no job outside the home.  With the shift to women working more outside of the home someone else is raising the children.  This is typically either a family member or a daycare center.  For the first wave of women who entered the workforce family assistance was more prevalent.  These women were more likely to have a mother who lived nearby AND who did not have a job.  Today most women of childbearing years have a mother who is working and often does not live in the same town.  Even for those who have mothers that don’t work and do live close by, Baby boomer grandparents are less likely to watch their grandchildren on a consistent basis than their parents were.  This means that most women who are working will now need to pay a daycare center to watch any children they have. They must leave their children with strangers and pay a large economic price for it.

We have also brainwashed the past 3 generations of women into believing that being in the workplace is not only normal, but also a higher calling than being a mother.  Our society looks down on a woman who graduates high school then becomes a mom in her late teens and early twenties. Our government had the largest push for women in the workforce during World War 2 however that push continued and with the workforce doubling (or at least increasing by over 50%), there eventually became a labor surplus and real wages went down, but the 2 earner household provided the perfect smokescreen for the destruction of the dollar through inflation.

Lack of Support: I urge you to read the book Hunt Gather Parent.  It covers the massive shift in raising children that has taken place primarily in Western culture over the last 60 years.  For almost all of human history raising children was a communal effort.  Today it is much more common for all the pressure of raising children to be on the nuclear family, and since we have seen a breakdown of the family in general, this pressure is much more often to be on the single mother.  Women see other women struggling like hell to be the primary breadwinner and do all of the child raising.  They see this common occurrence and don’t want to burden themselves with this chaotic, stressful, isolated life.

The daycare assistance cliff: Each state handles daycare assistance differently. In my state to qualify for daycare assistance total household income must be below a certain amount, it then is on a sliding scale to a slightly higher amount and goes from 100% covered to 70% covered, then to $0.  The result is most families will not qualify for any assistance at all, and the few who do will see effective tax rates in excess of 100% if their income increases, due to falling off of benefit cliffs.

The Deadweight Loss: Women participate in the workforce in much greater numbers today than their grandmothers did, they also have become more educated.  For a woman that works at a minimum wage job and quits her job to raise a young child the deadweight loss of her lost wages is virtually a break even game.  She is barely earning more money than what her daycare expenses would be.  Women however are earning more money than ever before.  More women are going to college than men.  This means that women will in general be earning more money, and therefore quitting work to stay at home with babies carries a bigger financial disincentive.  Couple that with large student loans because getting an in state public college 4 year degree now costs around $120,000 and you can see another large financial incentive to not have children.

How does a woman who spent $120,000 on her education with $800 monthly payments in student loans, a 6 figure job, and no clear path to homeownership decide to quit her job to raise babies? She’s now in a position where it is economic suicide to have children.

WOW! I knew more women were going to college than men, but had no idea that this flipped in 1981! Part of this could be due to men figuring out that college has a negative ROI, while many women go to college for the experience over return on investment.

Societal Issues Around Having Children:

Aside from money and daycare. There are many societal pressures on family size.

The Helicopter Society: The rise of helicopter parenting has brought about the death of free range parenting and latchkey kids.  The Twilight Zone is one of my favorite television series.  It’s unreal how creative Rod Serling was and the visions he painted in the late 50s and early 60s.  What I find most interesting about Twilight Zone episodes isn’t even the intentionally surreal parts of the show,  its the parts that were not intended to be surreal.  Children as young as 5 are often “running the streets” and doing whatever they please throughout the town without any adult supervision in sight.  If I let my 7 year old ride his bike in the street I would probably have Child Protective Services called on me.

In addition to the rise of helicopter parenting meaning that adults are now required to actively watch their children all day (while both parents work), it also means that parents are at risk of criminal charges for allowing their children to play, or worse yet, to be home alone.  There are plenty of cases where parents have gone to jail for allowing their kids to let themselves in the house after school and just exist without a grown up around.  This insane, new, and appalling culture gives many would be parents pause before signing up. We put parents in an impossible situation: Dual earners, with no parental or extended family assistance, a broken child care system, and threats of imprisonment for raising self sufficient children.

Limited Child Space: Not only did we make it a crime for children to play and exist without an adult hovering nearby, we also destroyed many of the spaces they played in.  Roads have gotten wider, bike lanes and sidewalks have disappeared, and playgrounds have been removed from parks.

A World Designed for 2 kids:  Have you ever tried to stay in a hotel room with children?  I can tell you its a major pain in the ass if you have more than 2.  Almost every hotel limits occupancy to 4 people per room.  Having a 3rd child means you either have to lie to the hotel staff, or pay for 2 rooms.  For years I did the former and brought 2 small air mattresses for the kids to lay on.   Deals for theme parks and restaurant specials are likewise always designed for a family of 4.

Many of these issues can be combated by government policy.  We could prioritize spending on child care subsidies.  We could stop marketing college to all children, and especially women. (College for the most part is a scam with a terrible negative ROI for most, but that’s another article)  We can expand the child tax credit, and at the national level can repeal all child neglect laws around independent children.  Most countries that are facing population collapse have tried some of these tactics, with limited success.  Russia gives out $10,000 to families that have a baby.  In Ama Japan the municipality pays a climbing amount for each child,  $940 for the first child and $9,400 for the fourth.

What many of these incentives do is simply throw a one time cash payment at parents, which does little to alleviate the massive economic downsides to having children and raising them to adulthood.

Women Who Don’t Want Any Children:

So there are plenty of reasons that women who want to have children decide to delay having children or reduce the number of children they have.  But what about when women don’t desire to have children at all?  Here’s where we as a society species are in trouble. When women have no desire to have children no amount of incentives will convince them to do so.  We can hand out $50,000 for having a baby and women who do not want kids will not take that money.  We can’t buy our way out of this.  As a society we have created a large swathe of women who do not want to have children.

Not only do the pressures above affect women who do want to have children, they also program women who are coming of age to not want children at all.  They see their single Aunt not having to deal with these struggles, while their mom is a constant nervous wreck.  With more single childless women to look up to, more young women will decide that having children is not the right path for them, and birth rates will fall further.

Here’s a TikTok showing the mindset.  Her life looks great doesn’t it?  I’m sure there are teens watching her TikToks that want to emulate her lifestyle.  

When 27% of US adults don’t want to ever have children, there is a big problem in the midst.

The more society shows us a certain lifestyle, the more likely the younger generation is to emulate it.  Here’s an excerpt from an article about parental desires in China

“Single children who enjoyed their parents’ undivided attention believe their own offspring deserve at least as much. Multiple children, meanwhile, are associated with rural poverty, not urban aspirations.

“I want for my child what I had. That is why I am not having another,” read the top-voted post in a thread on, in which single children share their views about having kids themselves.

The one-child family has established itself so firmly in my generation’s consciousness, in fact, that those who contemplate having a second or third child often find it difficult to conceive how they would handle it. Having grown up as single children among others like them, they can find no model that might serve as a guide.” – Helen Gao China’s Generation of Only Children Wants the Same for Their Kids

What About Men?

Presumably men are an integral part to having children as well, and men have a lot of incentive to NOT have children.  We already covered that children are an economic liability based on child labor laws and the decline of both family businesses and businesses that allow children in the workplace.  These issues affect both men and women, but as far as issues that affect men primarily, the most pressing is the economic liability of having children.

If “things don’t work out” and the parents of a child split up, overwhelmingly the man will be at both a financial loss and a parenting loss.  Shared custody is rare.  Often men are limited to seeing their children every other weekend.  This is a major blow and being in a position where a woman can dictate that you can’t be involved in your children’s lives is a big concern.  Many men will avoid having children with a woman they aren’t married to.  Men who have ended up in this situation will 100% refuse to reproduce with another woman.  They will not allow themselves to be put in this position again.

Add on top of the custody issue child support.  Men are then required to pay child support, which is often based on their income.  This leads to high earning men paying a much higher amount of money than what it takes to raise a child.  Having a baby momma gives that woman an irrational amount of control over you.  Having 2 or 3 turns your life to hell.

Fatherhood does not carry the advantage for men that it has for nearly all of human history. Our media for 3 decades has purposefully portraited fathers as idiots, as an extra child, as an irrelevant butt of jokes.  This constraint portrayal coupled with easy divorces, child support rulings, and the welfare state being a relatively strong provider, has created a culture where men have no desire to become fathers.

Other Society Issues That Lead To Fewer Children:

Teen Motherhood: We have demonized women having children at a young age to such an extent that its no wonder we have falling population rates. I absolutely think the decline in early teen mothers is a net benefit for women and society, this is girls under 16 having children. We have taken this a step further and made it economic suicide for a woman to produce children in her late teens and early 20s. We even strongly criticize women who become mothers in their late teens and early 20s, precisely when they should biologically be having children. If Women don’t start having children until their mid 30s when they “have their life together” then their window for having children is very narrow and they are likely to only have 1 to 2 children.

This is especially amazing given the difference in media we have today vs 30/40/50 years ago. The current generation has the least amount of teen pregnancies in human history.

Recent Social Morays on Age: We have demonized substantial age gaps between women and men and even attack older men who date / marry older teens as pedophiles, throwing out the entire definition of the word.  Once again for most of human history women married older men.  This greatly increases the likelihood of producing more children.  As an example, let’s say a 30 year old man marries an 18 year old woman.  Our society will demonize him as a predator, and her as a gold digger, which is crazy.   A woman is typically able to produce children between 14 and 42 without the assistance of invasive modern medicine.  An 18 year old marrying a 30 year old who has already completed further education, already owns a home, and is already established in a career is a stark difference than dating another 18 year old, going through further education together, both being in debt, and likely not starting a family until SHE is in her 30s, and by then conceiving will be more difficult. The biological clock in this scenario pushes her to only having 1 or 2 kids, if any.  The woman marrying the older man essentially jumps forward on the board of life 3 rounds and is able to start producing children much earlier in life, likely in her early 20s.  Having children earlier leads to more total children per woman. The woman marrying an older, established man at 18 is likely to have her first child a decade before the woman marrying a man her own age.

Oh and you need to watch this TikTok of Steve Harvey talking about a Woman’s biological clock and a Man’s Financial clock.

The Decline of Marriage: The main function of marriage is the production of children.  People in a long term relationship are more likely to have children.  But the decline in marriage, both in marriage starts, and in marriages sustaining, reduces the likelihood and number of children women have.  Producing children with a mate that will not be around next year is extremely detrimental to women, therefore most women will refrain from producing children if they do not have a long term mate that they trust will be around. The Decline in marriage is its own topic and there are many factors.  The percentage of adults who are married dropped from 72% in 1960 to 51% in 2010.

The Decline in Men: Yeah, we are a big problem.  Our society has destroyed the ability for young men to become fathers.  We have millions of men whose biggest goal is to excel at “Call of Duty”. Our society has not only accepted manchildren, it has condoned them through pop culture. The portrayal of men not only set women up to treat men differently over the last 30 years, but has also set men up to have different goals then what men would have had 30 years ago.

Low wage earning males are also a problem.  Although the guy earning $10 an hour at McDonalds is a way more attractive mate than a guy sitting on the couch, he is not going to be seen as attractive to a woman who is out earning him. As more women seek further education and careers, there will be a widening gap, where the average woman outearns the average man.  This is very dangerous for society as well and ensures fewer children will be produced.  Women by nature seek a man who is stronger than them and more financially secure than them.  It is rare that a woman will consider a man with a lower earning potential than herself for a mate.  So what happens when the average woman out earns the average man?  Many women compete for the few men at the top and refuse to settle (until it is too late in their reproductive clock) for a lower earning man.

Here’s a funny video to show some of the female thought processes this leads to.

College educated women, and women with higher status careers are FAR less likely to become married and have children than less educated and lower status career women.  The women in these positions who want children and a husband put so much priority on their education and work status and neglect the fact that these are typically not characteristics that men look for in a mate. (PSA men are looking for women to be their peace, to provide respect and intimacy, they typically do not assign much of a + or – to career status and education.)

The Attack on Polygamy: Women in nature practice hypergamy.  They date up and across social standing.  It is uncommon for women to date down in standing. This of course means that more women are willing to date a smaller selection of all men, so the bottom 10%, 20%, 30% of men will naturally not find a mate.  This means that women are not likely to date men who are lower earners than them. This becomes a problem for a strictly monogamous society when women on average out earn men.  This leads to women being unwilling to “settle” for someone not at her standing, but also due to our social morays against polygamy, prevent her from taking action and along with another female or more dating / marrying the same high performance man.  A woman by nature who is earning $60,000 a year is more likely to be accepting of sharing a husband who is earning $250,000 a year than to marry a man that she has all to herself who is earning $30,000 a year.

Because our society is so ingrained towards monogamy it is more likely for women to date / marry men who they do not see as strong providers, and who are not is a strong position to support children.  This leads to fewer children being produced.  This marriage will also happen when her biological clock is at its end point, not at its start.  By contrast, in the rare situations of polygamy in western culture the women involved tend to have more children. This is because they view their husband as a strong provider, the husband is a strong provider, AND they have community support from the other wives. Raising 10 children between 3 wives who live together and none work outside the home is far easier on each woman than a woman raising 2 children while working outside the home in a dual earner household.

Options To Not Have Children:

Because birth control is in general safe, effective, and readily available to most of the world women can choose when to have children.  This was not true for most of human history.  If you had sex, you would end up having children.  Now that is not the case. Children are a major lifestyle burden, especially to women, and especially to unmarried women who are employed and seeking a career.  Women can choose to take medication to ensure they won’t have children until the right time.  The problem is the right time never comes.

We now have a birth control pill for men.  This also changes the game in a drastic way to further drive down birth rates.  It is not an uncommon occurrence for a woman to go off her birth control to get pregnant on purpose with a man who has no intention of reproducing.  Now that men have the ability to take birth control pills, this situation is eliminated.  If both men and women can choose to not have children while still participating in sexual activity, we will see a further decline in children being born.

So How Do We Fix The Falling Birth Rates?

This is a cultural shift that needs to take place, and to be honest, I’m not optimistic it will. Life with children in todays society is too restrictive in time energy and financially, that those barriers need to be removed for birth rates to increase.  I strongly believe we are on a downward spiral.  We need to create a world where children are not major economic or lifestyle liabilities. This will not be easy. We need a much higher involvement in raising children from an extended network of family and community members.

Affordable housing builds: Housing must be affordable.  If a woman can’t nest, then having children is out of the question.  We need to build affordable homes at a massive scale, not seen since the end of World War 2.  I think there is a lot of promise in new ideas such as boxable and 3d printed housing to alleviate this situation. We need to be building 5 million+ new housing units per year.

Kill the K-12/college/job culture:  Yeah this has to die.  The job culture is a 19th century invention, it is not the norm of the human condition.  Likewise, the K-12 schooling system was specifically designed to make docile citizens to become wage slaves.  It isn’t a side effect, its by design.   If instead the average couple runs their own business whereas the wife can spend minimal time in it, in a self designed flexible work arrangement, it is more likely she will have children than if she works for a large company.  She will also be able to have her children work in the family business, and ideally, homeschool her children. The children will be present at the economic activity and they will be learning the economic activity.  How many “jobs” allow you to bring your kids to work with you every day?

Sound Money: Go back to the gold standard or a silver standard and stop printing money.  As long as money is FIAT, inflation will rob the futures of our children and grandchildren.  With sound currency we can also sooner get back to a place where it is not abnormal or unattainable for a woman to be a stay at home mom.

Kill this large age gap = predator notion.  A man in his 30s or 40s with a late teens / early 20s woman is not a predator or pedophile.  This idea has to be wiped from our culture. A pedophile is a despicable human who is attracted to prepubescent children.  A woman in her late teens is not a child.

Daycare system: We need the have a clear daycare system in place.  We need to reduce government restrictions on daycare providers to make daycare centers easier to open and run, and thus less costly.  This includes reducing restrictions on operating daycares out of personal residences and eliminating the caps on children that each worker can supervise, leaving this to the parents and providers to decide.  This will lead to more daycare options. We also need to fix the daycare subsidy programs and give some help to more people, rather than 100% help to very few.

Increased child tax credits:  We need to make the 2021 child tax credit increases permanent. This is a major offset to the costs of raising children.

Stronger men: We need men to become stronger and able to carry the burden of being the primary earner.  Men need to seek paths that lead to increased income, and then spend that income on top priorities such as housing and a stay at home spouse, not on toys, booze, and video games. For women to be comfortable leaving the workplace they need to feel secure that their partner can and will provide for them.

Even with all of these changes, it will still be a massive shift to get people to desire having 3 to 4 children instead of 0 or 1. Make no mistake, we are at a very dangerous place with demographics and most people still think that overpopulation is a problem.

What do you think? Do you think humanity is headed for extinction? Wouldn’t that be a terrible way for the light of consciousness to exit this world, by choosing not to reproduce and having a population collapse, not for want of feeding ourselves, but for want of having children?  For more on this subject check out the book “What To Expect When No One is Expecting.



John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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