David McWilliams: The global population will soon fall, and this will change the world

Falling populations in Europe, America and Asia will make Africa an economic superpower

The planet is moving from a baby boom to a baby drought, which has reached every continent except Africa. Photograph: iStock

The planet is moving from a baby boom to a baby drought, which has reached every continent except Africa. Photograph: iStock

‘Demography is destiny” is a phrase said to have been coined by the French philosopher August Comte. The Irish people, perhaps more than most, should appreciate the significance of this expression. After all, no European country, possibly no modern country, has experienced as traumatic a demographic pattern since 1840.

With the island’s population only just moving back towards the eight million recorded in the early 1840s, Ireland’s 200-year experience is a source of fascination for demographers. Yet our experience of falling population is about to be copied all over the world, albeit under very different circumstances.

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