Portland, USA – Contrary to the hype and oft-quoted nonsense of some celebrities reported in the media, the world’s population of 8,000,000,000 people is not going to collapse any time soon.
Moreover, this imagined global population collapse is neither the greatest problem facing the world, nor is this misconception a much greater risk to civilization than climate change, which is certainly the greatest challenge facing the world. ‘humanity.
According to recent projections, the world population is expected to continue to increase over the coming decades. Hundreds of millions more people are expected to be added to the planet, but at a slower rate than in the recent past.
The expected slowdown in world population growth is not a problem. The global population slowdown clearly signals social, economic, environmental and climatic successes and benefits for human life on planet Earth.
Many of those who call for increased population growth rates through higher birth rates and more immigration are simply promoting Ponzi demographics. The underlying strategy of Ponzi demography is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs of increasing population growth.
World population reached the one billion mark in 1804. World population doubled to 2 billion in 1927, doubled again to 4 billion in 1974, then doubled a third time to 8 billion in 2022.
Throughout the many centuries of human history, the 20th century has been an exceptional period of population records.
The world’s population nearly quadrupled, from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 6.1 billion by the end of the century. Furthermore, the annual growth rate of world population peaked at 2.3% in 1963 and the annual increase reached a peak of 93 million in 1990.
Since the start of the 21st century, the world’s population has increased by almost 2 billion people, from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 8 billion in 2022. During this period, the annual rate of global population growth has increased from 1.3% to 0.8%, the world’s annual population increase from 82 million to 67 million today.
While mortality continues to play an important role in global population growth, as evidenced recently by the COVID-19 pandemic, fertility is expected to be the primary determinant of the future size of the global population.
The global average fertility rate of about 2.3 births per woman in 2020 is less than half the average fertility rates of the 1950s and 1960s.
The United Nations medium variant population projection assumes that fertility rates will continue to decline. By the end of the century, the total fertility rate is expected to decline to a global average of 1.8 births per woman, one-third of the rate of the early 1960s and well below the replacement level of fertility.
The medium variant projection results in an increase in world population to 9 billion by 2037, 10 billion by 2058, and 10.3 billion by 2100.
Alternative population projections include the high and low variants, which assume about half a child above and below the medium variant, respectively. As a result, the world population by 2100 ends up being noticeably larger in the high variant at 14.8 billion and noticeably smaller in the low variant at 7.0 billion.
Another unlikely but instructive alternative demographic projection is the constant variant. This projection variant assumes that countries’ current fertility rates remain unchanged or constant at their current levels for the rest of the 21st century. The constant variant gives a projected world population at the end of the century that is more than double its current size, 19.2 versus 8.0 billion.
Although the world’s population is expected to continue to increase over the coming decades, there is considerable diversity in the future population growth of countries.
The populations of about 50 countries, including China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Spain, are expected to decline by mid-century due to low rates of fertility. At the same time, the populations of about two dozen other countries, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia and Sudan, are expected to increase significantly due to their fertility rates. relatively high.
A comparison of population growth under the medium variant for the four largest countries projected by mid-century, namely China, India, Nigeria and the United States, highlights the diversity of the population growth expected in the 21st century.
The current size of China’s population is estimated to be near its peak at around 1.4 billion. Due to its fertility rate of 1.16 births per woman, which is close to half the replacement level and is expected to remain relatively low over the coming decades, China’s population is expected to fall to 1.3 billion. by 2050 and drop further to 0.8 billion by 2100.
On the other hand, the Indian population, whose fertility rate is estimated at 2.0 births per woman and which is expected to decline further, continues to grow. Due to this population growth, India’s population will likely overtake China’s population by 2023. By 2060, India’s population is expected to peak at 1.7 billion and decline to 1.5 billion by 2100 (Figure 3) .
The population of the United States, currently the third most populous population in the world after China and India, is expected to continue to grow largely due to immigration. By 2050, the US population is expected to reach 375 million and be close to 400 million by the end of the century.
Nigeria’s rapidly growing population, which has more than doubled in the past 30 years from 100 million in 1992 to 219 million in 2022, is expected to continue its rapid population growth for the rest of the century. Nigeria’s population is expected to exceed the US population by 2050, when it will reach 377 million, then increase to 500 million in 2077 and 546 million by the end of the century.
Of course, the future size of the world’s population remains uncertain. Demographic conditions, particularly mortality levels recently seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, could change significantly and future fertility rates could also follow different patterns from those assumed in the most recent population projections.
Nonetheless, it looks like the current world population of 8 billion will continue to grow over the next few decades, likely gaining another 2 billion people by mid-century.
The expected population growth of the world’s population of 8 billion during the 21st century poses daunting challenges. Foremost among these challenges are serious concerns about food, water and energy supplies, natural resources, biodiversity, pollution, the environment and, of course, climate change, considered by most, including scientists around the world, as humanity’s greatest challenge.
Joseph Chamie is an independent consultant demographer, former director of the United Nations Population Division and author of numerous publications on population issues, including his recent book, “Births, Deaths, Migrations and Other Important Population Matters”.