A key international report has warned that fertility has fallen to its lowest level since the early 1960s.
The report, released on Monday, said that the number of children born per woman worldwide had fallen to a record low of 2.1 in 2016.
It also said that fertility awareness among women had fallen by one third since the 1960s, the lowest in at least 50 years.
A second report by the International Institute for Population and Development, meanwhile, found that the world’s population was set to reach a record 6.3 billion in 2060, with 7 billion people living below the poverty line.
However, it said that there were some signs of hope for the world population.
In a statement, the World Bank said the decline in fertility was linked to two factors.
First, the birth rate had fallen significantly, with the number per woman dropping from 1.8 in 1960 to 1.6 in 2016, according to the report.
Second, there was a fall in fertility awareness, which fell from 81 percent in 1960 in some countries to 78 percent in 2016 in India, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The decline in the birthrate was linked in part to the fall in the number and fertility of children in the world, the report said.
The number of births per woman fell from 3.3 in 1960, to 2.9 in 2016 (see chart below).
The drop was attributed to the decline of the practice of contraception and the rise of adoption, the study said.
However, the fertility decline was still much higher than the global average of 2 to 2 and a half children per woman in the 1960 to 2016 period.
“It’s important to remember that the fertility rate was falling in the early decades of the twentieth century, but it has since rebounded,” said Dr David Aveyard, who chaired the World Population Commission from 2007 to 2012.
“We need to keep our focus on the issues that are most important, including fertility, population and the number.
He said the world needed to be more ambitious in pursuing policies to reduce the population, including using technology to provide more access to contraceptives and education to children.
Dr Aveyard said the World Health Organization (WHO) had been “instrumental” in bringing about the global rise in fertility, adding that there was “no doubt” that the rise in the fertility rates was linked, in part, to the rise over the last 30 years in the use of contraception.
Aveyard said there was also “a good deal of evidence” linking the use and decline of contraceptive use and the decrease in the global birthrate, with some countries having the lowest birthrates.
Meanwhile, the global population has dropped by about 2.2 million since 1960, according the new report.
While the fertility trend is not expected to continue, Dr Aveyard cautioned that the global fertility rate would have to increase to avoid reaching the current level of 3.1 children per family.
Read more about the World Economic Forum here.