The future without people: birth crisis and rise of virtual sexuality

The birth rate is obtained by dividing the number of births in the year by the total population, multiplying that result by one thousand. For a population to remain stable, the number should be 2.1 children per woman.

In recent decades, the world has had a dramatic drop in the birth rate and a rise in virtual sexuality. These phenomena, driven by economic problems and sociocultural changes, pose a disturbing future where humanity could face a reality without people. Japan is a clear example of this trend, being the country with the oldest population in the world. In 2022, for the first time, adults over 65 years of age outnumber children under 5 years of age.

Japan faces a severe shortage of caregivers for its elderly, despite having one of the most generous care systems in the world. Language barriers and insularity make it difficult for foreign workers to come to care for them. Japanese couples, faced with an economic and employment crisis, are choosing to have fewer children, seeking solutions such as accelerating economic growth, encouraging older people to continue working and reducing social security costs.

Japan’s economic history, marked by the concept of Mottainai (reduce, reuse and recycle), shows its ability to overcome challenges. After World War II, Japan rebuilt itself by cutting costs, reusing foreign models and recycling parts to create new products. Japan imported products from the US, reduced their costs and exported them around the world. This economic prowess was envied globally until the so-called Lost Decade, a period of stagnation that began in the 1990s.

The Malthusian theory, which predicted a catastrophe due to overpopulation, did not materialize thanks to advances in productivity and a drastic reduction in the birth rate. However, today the threat has changed: the population is declining, except in sub-Saharan Africa. This phenomenon, driven by improvements in quality of life and access to contraceptive methods, has an unexpected biological effect.

South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the world, set to reach 0.72 in 2023. If this trend continues, South Korea’s population will be halved by 2100. Despite financial incentives and subsidies, couples continue to have fewer children. Expensive education and intense social competition discourage young people from forming families. Women face difficulties in finding partners who will equally share household and child-rearing responsibilities.

Globally, contraceptive availability and sexual acceptance have increased, but sexual relationships have declined. In the United States, 30% of men under 30 have not had sex with women in the past year. Connection with virtual beings, such as Alexa or Siri, has increased. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to create virtual lovers who meet all needs without emotional complications.

The technology industry is shaping the future of human intimacy, replacing interaction with other human beings with immediate, isolated satisfaction. This change could have unforeseen consequences, such as an increase in isolation and a decrease in procreation. The future could be marked by abandoned houses, closed businesses, squares without children and an increase in funerals over baptisms.

Examples of solutions implemented in different countries that could serve as inspiration to address the birth crisis and promote a work-life balance:

Sweden and Norway
These countries offer extensive paid parental leave, which can be shared between both parents. Sweden, for example, offers 480 days of paid parental leave, with 90 days reserved specifically for each parent, thus incentivizing the participation of both parents in raising their children.

Child subsidies and daycare: France provides significant financial subsidies to families for each child, in addition to a wide network of accessible and affordable nurseries and kindergartens. This support makes it easier for parents to balance work and family.

Part-Time and Family Leave Act (Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz): This law allows employees to temporarily reduce their working hours to care for their children or family members without losing their employment rights. Employers are required to seriously consider requests for part-time work.

Teleworking and flexible hours: Canada promotes teleworking policies and flexible work schedules, allowing employees to adjust their schedules to meet family needs. This is especially important for parents who must care for their young children.

Baby bonds and children’s savings accounts: Singapore offers financial bonuses for each child born, in addition to special savings accounts (Baby Bonus) where the government matches parents’ contributions up to a certain limit. They also provide significant subsidies for education and child care.

Birth bonuses and housing subsidiesItaly has implemented birth bonuses and offers housing subsidies for young families. These incentives seek to ease the financial burdens associated with raising children and encourage the formation of new families.

Comprehensive sexual education: In the Netherlands, comprehensive sexuality education starts from a young age, promoting a healthy and responsible understanding of sexuality. This includes information about contraception, healthy relationships, and the importance of family planning.

Family wellness programs: Finland offers parenting education and support programs, including classes on parenting and child development. Additionally, it provides family counseling services to help couples manage the stress and challenges of family life.

Equal pay and equal parental leave: Iceland has implemented policies to ensure equal pay and offers equal parental leave for both parents. This not only supports women in the labor market, but also promotes the active participation of fathers in raising children.

E-Residency and digital services: Estonia makes life easier for families through advanced digital services, such as e-Residency, which allows parents to manage documents and records electronically, saving time and reducing administrative stress.

Technology in elderly care: Japan is using robots and advanced technology to support elderly care, thereby easing the burden on families and allowing parents to focus more on their children.

The drop in the birth rate and the rise of virtual sexuality present unprecedented challenges. Implementing a combination of these policies and tailoring them to each country’s specific needs can help create a more family-friendly environment, increase the birth rate, and promote a healthy work-life balance. The key is to offer financial support, work flexibility, accessible education and health services, and promote gender equality.
The question that arises is: will humanity be able to adapt and survive in this new scenario?