Elon Musk is wrong: A “baby bust” is the opposite of our problem

Written by Olivia Nater | Published:


Next Tuesday, July 11, is World Population Day, a United Nations observance day established in 1989 to raise awareness of the urgency and importance of population issues. It’s not a well-known day, but it should be. Misinformation about demographic trends abounds thanks to increasingly common “baby bust” rhetoric fueled by people like Elon Musk, who has repeatedly claimed that low birth rates present the biggest threat to civilization.

Last week, he went as far as voicing his agreement with a tweet that suggested people without children should be stripped of their voting rights. Musk either intentionally ignores or is oblivious to the fact that our global population is on track to keep growing well into the second half of the century. We passed the 8 billion milestone last November, and the UN projects with 95 percent certainty that our 2100 population will range between 8.9 and 12.4 billion, with a median projection of 10.4 billion.

Whether we approach the end of the century with 8.9, 10.4, or 12.4 billion people on Earth makes a big difference, especially in light of the escalating climate crisis which is making parts of the Earth uninhabitable. Already, around half the world’s people are experiencing severe water scarcity for at least one month per year. Drought, heatwaves, and extreme weather are claiming ever more lives, and the number of people facing high levels of food insecurity has more than doubled since 2020.

Population Connection President and CEO John Seager says,

“Influential people like Elon Musk do a lot of harm by suggesting there is a baby shortage, when the reality is that our population is still growing by around 70 million people every year. The number of women with an unmet need for contraception is expected to increase from 257 million today to 262 million by 2030 due to population growth outstripping progress in family planning provision. The real crisis is that several governments, including ours in the U.S., are moving in the wrong direction by restricting reproductive rights. We need greater awareness around population issues and the serious funding gap for women’s empowerment initiatives.”


Contact Olivia Nater: onater@popconnect.org | 202-974-7739