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Global population nears 8 billion with projections set to reach 11 billion in 30 years

National Post logo National Post 2019-07-11 Devika Desai
People crowd an outdoor swimming pool to beat the heat on July 6, 2019 in Chongqing, China. © 2019 VCG People crowd an outdoor swimming pool to beat the heat on July 6, 2019 in Chongqing, China.

There are currently more than seven and a half billion people in the world, according to a UN report, with two billion more set to arrive in the next 30 years. 

Furthermore, by the end of the century, population numbers could reach a staggering 11 billion, a stark contrast to the year 1999, when just over six billion people walked the planet. 

To break it down — the human population would have more or less doubled in the span of a sole century, since 1999. 

The steep rate of population growth is a mounting concern to United Nations leader on World Population Day, observed on July 11 every year, to increase awareness of global population issues. 

Yet at the same time, the world’s population is growing older thanks to increased life expectancy and falling fertility levels, and 27 countries have reported a reduction of one percent or more in their population sizes. 

Crowded local train in Mumbai, India. © 2017 Hindustan Times

Crowded local train in Mumbai, India.

Where is the growth coming from ?

The report states that between now and 2050, more than half of the population will be concentrated within nine countries — India, Pakistan, Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, The United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, United States of America, Ethiopia. Currently, China remains the most populous country but is projected to be overtaken by India’s population by 2027. The Sub-Saharan African population is also predicted to double by 2050.

Also watch: What was the US population in 1776? (Provided by GeoBeats)

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The steep growth in population is not without its consequences. In the poorest developing countries, it leads to a lapse in life expectancy by seven years, “due largely to persistently high levels of child and maternal mortality, as well as violence, conflict and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.”

“Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty, achieve greater equality, combat hunger and malnutrition and strengthen the coverage and quality of health and education systems to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs, as quoted in the report.

At the same time, an overall longer life expectancy has created yet another global benchmark — as of 2018, the number of people over 65 globally outnumber children under 5. This is furthered by a drop in global fertility rates to 2.5 births per woman in 2019 from 3.2 births per woman in 1990. Fertility is further predicted to decline to 2.2 births per woman in 2050.

By 2050, one out of every six people is projected to be over 65 years old. Subsequently, this means that the working population is shrinking, which in turn puts more pressure on shrinking social systems to care for their communities. 

This is especially concerning for countries mostly located in Europe, Northern America and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia which are expected to have potential support ratios, which compared the number of people at working age to those over 65, below two. 

However, what they suffer in local population loss, they gain in migration. Migration changes are expected to become a “major component of population change” between 2010 and 2020. Countries such as Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine (mostly Eastern European), will “experience a net inflow of migrants over the decade.”

While steep population growth, longer life expectancies and migration could point to an extremely overcrowded future, the Business Insider reports that the world population rate has slowed down since 1962 and is projected to slow down even more. 


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