Population growth in Europe is slowing down — so much so that the absolute number of people on the continent could begin to decline in the near future, according to an article published in the current issue of the journal Science. The report authors say the turning point came in 2000, when the number of children born in Europe guaranteed that there would be fewer parents in the next generation than in the current one. The researchers attributed the demographic change in large part to the fact that women are having children later in life. “The timing of child-bearing can actually have a major impact on future demographic trends,” said Brian O’Neill of Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems. All told, the European population could fall by 88 million people — or almost a quarter of the current population — by 2100.