Atheism and fertility rates

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Over 60% of Czech citizens can be identified as irreligious.[1][2] In 2012, the Czech Republic had 1.45 births per woman. A societal replacement level of births is 2.1 births per woman.

Replacement fertility is the level of fertility that is required to sustain a population without any external inputs (see also: Population crash).

In human populations, replacement fertility is 2.1 children born per woman in a given population.

Caspar Melville wrote in The New Humanist: "Firstly secular liberalism is individualistic, and therefore it goes hand in hand with delayed child bearing and lower fertility rates.[3]

Social science related work on sub-replacement fertility in human populations

See also: Population crash

Eric Kaufmann on sub-replacement fertility

Eric Kaufmann teaches at Birbeck College, University of London and he specializes in how demographic changes affect the realms of religion/irreligion and politics. Kaufmann wrote about the problem of sub-fertility in the developed world in his book Whither the Child?: Causes and Consequences of Low Fertility.[4]

Film documentary Demographic Winter: The decline of the human family

The film Demographic Winter focuses on the issue of sub-replacement fertility.

A review of the film documentary Demographic Winter declares:

One of the most ominous events of modern history is quietly unfolding. Social scientists and economists agree -- we are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences. The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe. This ground breaking film draws upon experts from many different disciplines and reveals in chilling soberness the dangers facing society and the world's economies...[5]

Sub-replacement fertility rates and desecularization

On December 23, 2012, Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote about the subject of global desecularization:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [6]

At a conference Kaufmann said of religious demographic projections concerning the 21st century:

Part of the reason I think demography is very important, at least if we are going to speak about the future, is that it is the most predictable of the social sciences.

...if you look at a population and its age structure now. You can tell a lot about the future. ...So by looking at the relative age structure of different populations you can already say a lot about the future...

...Religious fundamentalism is going to be on the increase in the future and not just out there in the developing world..., but in the developed world as well.[7]

Japan is one of the most atheistic countries in the world.[8]

In 2012, Japan: had 1.41 births per woman. A societal replacement level of births is 2.1 births per woman.

According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Center for the Study of Global Christianity, which has made projections up to the year of 2050, the percentage of the global population that are evangelical Christians/pentecostals is expected to increase .[9]

Michael Blume, a researcher at the University of Jena in Germany, wrote about the sub-replacement level of fertility among atheistic populations: "Most societies or communities that have espoused atheistic beliefs have not survived more than a century."[10] Blume also indicated concerning concerning his research on this matter: "What I found was the complete lack of a single case of a secular population, community or movement that would just manage to retain replacement level."[10] See also: Atheism and sexuality

The Washington Post wrote about the United States and fertility rates for various religious groups:

According to Pew's data, the average Mormon can expect to make 3.4 babies in his or her lifetime. Jews, Catholics, and most flavors of Protestantism have fertility rates ranging from 2 to 2.5. At the low end of the baby-making spectrum you've got atheists, with 1.6 kids, and agnostics, who average only 1.3.[11]

Fertility rates of countries with significant atheist populations

In 2014, the Pew Research Forum indicated that Europe will go from 11% of the world's population to 7% of the world's population by 2050.[12]

A replacement level of births in a country is 2.1 children per woman.

Secular European countries

  • Sweden: 1.91 births per woman (2012)
  • United Kingdom: 1.90 births per woman (2012)
  • Finland: 1.80 births per woman (2012)
  • Denmark: 1.73 births per woman (2012)
  • The Netherlands: 1.72 births per woman (2012)
  • Czech Republic: 1.45 births per woman (2012)

In 2014, the Pew Research Forum indicated that Europe will go from 11% of the world's population to 7% of the world's population by 2050.[12]

Secular European country with a strong pro-natalist public policy

  • France: 2.01 births per woman (2012)

Please see: France, a Pro-matalist Country


  • Australia: 1.93 births per woman (2012)

Fertility rates of Asian atheistic countries

  • China: 1.66 births per woman (2012)
  • Japan: 1.41 births per woman (2012)
  • Vietnam: 1.77 births per woman (2012)
  • North Korea: 1.98 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Fertility rates of various countries

Global atheism, aging populations and falling fertility rates

See also: Global atheism and aging populations

Global atheism is facing significant challenges in terms of aging populations in East Asia and Europe and this will be a significant cause of desecularization in the 21st century (see: Global atheism and aging populations).

As atheist populations rise in age, the fertility rates of atheistic countries could drop further. The Rand Corporation indicates, "Nearly all European nations are experiencing long-term downtrends in fertility, and consequently, ageing of their populations. These demographic trends could have potentially damaging consequences for European economies."[13]

Atheistic China and gender imbalance

See also: Atheism and women

With its large population, China has the largest population of atheists with 8 - 14% of Chinese being atheists.[14] Christianity is rapidly growing in China which will increase global desecularization and boost China's fertility rate. See: Growth of Christianity in China

China has the largest atheist population in the world.[8] The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[15] See: Western atheism and race

Due to sex-selection abortion and female infantcide, there is a gender imbalance within the Chinese population.

According to 2012 figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China, China’s sex ratio at birth (the number of boys born for every 100 girls) was as high as 118, while the sex ratio amongst the total population was about 105.[16] The statistical data from China indicates that the gap between male and female at birth is far larger than the biologically benchmark ratio (a sex ratio at birth of around 105 males per 100 females).[17]

See also:

See also

External links



  1. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" (PDF)
  2. "Are Czechs the least religious of all? | Dana Hamplova | Comment is free |".
  3. Battle of the Babies by Caspar Melville, The New Humanist
  4. Whither the Child? Causes and Consequences of Low Fertility, University of Virginia, Department of Sociology
  5. Demographic Winter: The decline of the human family - Amazon
  6. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
  7. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  8. 8.0 8.1 *Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  9. Global adherents of the major religions/worldviews, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Center for the Study of Global Christianity
  10. 10.0 10.1 Atheist: A dying breed as nature favours faithful
  11. Charted: The religions that make the most babies, Washington Post
  12. 12.0 12.1 Kochhar, Rakesh (February 3, 2014). "10 projections for the global population in 2050". FactTank/Pew Research Center website.
  13. Low Fertility and Population Ageing, Rand Corporation
  14. "The largest atheist/agnostic populations". Chris & Terri Chapman. Countries with the largest atheist populations.
  15. Fisher, Max and Dewey, Caitlin (May 23, 2013). "A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live". The Washington Post website.
  16. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing, China
  17. Poston, L. D., & Glover, S. K., Too many males: marriage market implications of gender imbalances in China, 2005