A special report on colossal demographic shifts around the world

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Deep Dive - Population Shifts

Special report: The aging, childless future

Data: United Nations World Population Prospects 2017; Chart: Harry Stevens/since the dawn of humans — the rise and, in the last half century, explosion of the population. Axios

Since the dawn of humans, we have faced one inexorable challenge — how to support the rise and — in the last half century or so — explosion of the population. But, in a momentous reversal, that age-old challenge is changing: the population of most countries is shrinking — for many of them at an alarming pace — and at the same time aging.

Much of the world teeters on the cusp of a childless, elderly future.

How we arrived at a childless future

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Kerrie Vila/Axios

Changing economic incentives, social expectations for women, and religious landscapes have upended the global age structure — and we're only seeing the beginning.

Between the lines: The developed world is having fewer babies, which means fewer working-age people to support the bulge of retiring and aging baby boomers. Meanwhile the population of Africa is surging.

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