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Baby Blues

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Baby Blues

By Zoe Galland

With humanity's numbers expected to hit 7 billion by 2012, countries around the world are trying to address overpopulation and overcrowding. But some nations are struggling with the opposite problem: low birthrates. For example, Japan's government is so worried about its birthrate that it cheered recent news about a slight increase in fertility—a June report stated that married couples had an average of 1.37 kids in 2008, up from 1.34 in 2007.

This slight increase didn't help Japan much; it still has the second-lowest birthrate in the world, after Hong Kong. They aren't the only places worrying about low birthrates. Austria, Germany, Greece, and Italy all face this problem, and their governments are taking different steps to deal with it. This pressing challenge is having enormous effects economically and culturally.

Here's BusinessWeek's list of the countries with birthrates that are too low to fully replace their populations.

Source: CIA World Factbook