Population growth in the Asia-Pacific region has slowed to the lowest rate in the developing world, a United Nations report showed Tuesday.
The growth rate since 2000 across the region is now 1.1 percent, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said, amid falling death rates but even faster tumbling birth rates.
"We are familiar with population ageing in countries like Japan but the same phenomenon is now evident in many countries," said UN Under-Secretary General Noeleen Heyzer.
"Once the total fertility rate falls below the replacement rate of 2.1, we can expect the region?s population to start shrinking."
Across the Asia-Pacific region, the number of children born per woman fell to 2.4 for the period 2000-2005, down from 2.9 per woman for the previous five years, according to the UN data.
The report showed that fertility rates are now below the replacement level in 16 countries in the region including China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The ESCAP's Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2008 said migration was exacerbating falling birth rates with populations of poorer nations heading for the richer regional economies of Singapore, Hong Kong and China.
Natural disasters had also worsened the situation for the Asia-Pacific area, the report said.
It said from January to September 2008, 28 natural disasters, chiefly earthquakes, floods and typhoons, affected more than 101 million people, killed more than 223,000, and caused more than 103-billion-dollars worth of economic damage.