New NPG Forum Paper Seeks to Counter Popular Narrative on Plummeting Birthrates

There is nothing abnormal about collapsing birth rates in the U.S., Europe, East Asia, and much of the developing world. Rather, this is an expected and predicted outcome of rising population density, especially in colony-forming species like ours.

After months of outlets declaring low birth rates a crisis, a new Forum paper published by Negative Population Growth, Inc. shares valuable insight into why this is not the case. Written by Nathanial Gronewold, Don’t Call It a Crisis: The Natural Explanation Behind Collapsing Birth Rates seeks to counter the low birth rates narrative and illustrate why plummeting birth rates are natural and the inevitable result of overpopulation and population density. In short order, Gronewold, author of the new book Anthill Economics: Animal Ecosystems and the Human Economy, cuts to the heart of the matter, declaring low birth rates a matter of fact rather than an issue to be resolved by governments nationally and abroad.

Within the opening paragraphs, he states, “It’s a rule of nature; nothing grows forever. It’s definitely not a crisis. Rather, in the face of the collapsing birth rates trend – and a possible future decline in U.S. population that may ensue because of it – the only proper response by the U.S. government is no response whatsoever. The same goes for the world as a whole – governments everywhere should avoid all attempts to manipulate birth rates, period.” Gronewold follows up his bold statement with details cementing his reasoning, noting: “…research published from 2002-2017 has uncovered incontrovertible evidence that falling human fertility in the U.S. and globally is a natural phenomenon with a natural explanation behind it: rising human population density.” He goes on to say, “There is nothing abnormal about collapsing birth rates in the U.S., Europe, East Asia, and much of the developing world. Rather, this is an expected and predicted outcome of rising population density, especially in colony-forming species like ours.”

Zooming out, Gronewold looks at the issue from a bird’s eye view, saying, “For ecologists, population dynamics are driven by a general rule-of-thumb: population growth tends to be faster when population density is low, and population growth tends to be slower when population density is high. That’s how it works for most animals, insects, and even many species of plants. For the mammal Homo sapiens, population density is very high almost everywhere. Therefore, our rate of population growth is slowing, and it will go slower still if average human population density continues to increase via the process we call urbanization.”

Next, Gronewold zooms in – to look closely at population density, with the consideration that stress due to crowding is another factor that influences declining birth rates. He first acknowledges that this affects the animal kingdom, too, before moving forward to note a group of scholars that has “confirmed that a very strong relationship exists between a nation’s average population density and its total fertility rate. In other words, the higher a country’s population density, the lower its birth rate.”

He summarizes the findings of multiple studies, sharing, “The pressures of crowding induce stress. We see this in higher housing costs and higher costs of living. The same occurs in nature: the ‘cost of living’ for animals rises, as well, at high population densities. This added stress is apparently negatively impacting biological fertility also, and not just for women. For example, there is strong clinical evidence that elevated stress levels depress human male fertility…The evidence is clear: falling total fertility rates are natural, inevitable, and ultimately inescapable so long as our average population density keeps rising.”

Before concluding his work, Gronewold brings immigration into the conversation, saying, “Immigration is an option many pundits will inevitably propose, but this will drag birthrates even lower if it results in higher population densities.”

In closing, Gronewold once more tethers low birth rates to population density and population growth, explaining, “We should treat low and declining birth rates in extremely densely populated societies for what they are – as nature taking its course, and not socio-economic aberrations requiring misplaced and futile social engineering. In the face of falling birth rates, do nothing; that’s the message Washington, D.C. needs to hear.” He ends with a note about where the U.S. is likely heading, saying, “I believe America will follow; at some point U.S. population will peak and then move in reverse, as seen in virtually all animal populations. This will happen regardless of Washington’s policies because America is becoming too crowded, crowding causes stress, and stressed-out individuals can’t or won’t have children.”

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at, follow us on Facebook @NegativePopulationGrowth or follow us on Twitter @npg_org.

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