A new projection from the United Nations (UN) has shown that the global population is expected to reach 8 billion on November 15 even as population growth is at its lowest in decades.
The UN report is titled “World Population Prospects” and was released on Monday to mark the 2022 World population Day. It projects that the world’s population could further grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050.
It also projected that the population could reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s.
The U.N. believes that the globe’s population will be stagnant at this level until about 2100.
The report details that population growth is caused in part by declining levels of mortality due to advancements in health. Further reductions in mortality are expected to result in an average lifespan of 77 years by 2050, according to U.N. estimates.
According to the report, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world by 2023. This is partly because of China’s aging population and history of restricting births.
India’s population was 1.21 billion in 2011, according to the domestic census, which is conducted once a decade. The government had deferred the 2021 census due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN report indicates that countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050.
“More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania,”
The report shows that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under one per cent in 2020.
Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, warned that rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.
Birth rates in the 21st Century
While the world’s population will reach eight billion after exceeding seven billion 11 years ago in 2011, the UN did highlight that in 61 countries or areas, the population is expected to decrease by at least one per cent over the next three decades
For instance, the report found that two-thirds of the global population lives in a country where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman – the level required for zero population growth for a population with a low mortality rate.
John Wilmoth, the director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), warns that “the cumulative effect of lower fertility if maintained over several decades, could be a more substantial deceleration of global population growth in the second half of the century.”
The ‘demographic dividend’
In most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, recent reductions in fertility have led to a “demographic dividend”, with a rise in the share of the working age population (25 to 64 years), providing an opportunity for accelerated economic growth per capita.
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The report indicates that to make the most of this opportunity, countries should invest in the further development of their human capital, by ensuring access to health care and quality education at all ages, and by promoting opportunities for productive employment and decent work.
It also says the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education, and gender equality, will contribute to reducing fertility levels and slowing global population growth.
World population day
World population day is observed on July 11 every year to raise awareness of global population issues and the effects of overpopulation on the environment and development.
The theme for this year’s day is ‘A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all – Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all.’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement to commemorate the day said it is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognise our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates.
Mr Guterres said it is also a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another.
“Amidst Covid-19, the climate crisis, wars and conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, hunger and poverty, our world is in peril,” he said.
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