World Population After 8,000,000,000

(IPS) -Contrary to the often-cited hype and nonsense of some celebrities reported in the news media, the world’s population of 8,000,000,000 human beings is not going to collapse any time soon.

Moreover, that fancied collapse of world population is neither the biggest problem facing the world nor is that false notion a much bigger risk to civilization than climate change, which is certainly humanity’s greatest challenge.

According to recent projections, the world’s population is expected to continue increasing over the coming decades. Hundreds of millions of more people are projected to be added to the planet, but at a slower pace than during the recent past.

The expected slowdown in the growth of world population does not constitute a problem. The global demographic slowdown clearly signals social, economic, environmental and climatic successes and benefits for human life on planet Earth.

Many of those calling for increased rates of population growth through higher birth rates and more immigration are simply promoting Ponzi demography. The underlying strategy of Ponzi demography is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs incurred from increased population growth.

World population reached the 1 billion milestone in 1804. World population doubled to 2 billion in 1927, doubled again to 4 billion in 1974, and then doubled a third time to 8 billion in 2022

India’s population will likely overtake China’s population by 2023. Picture: Mumbai, India. Credit: Sthitaprajna Jena (CC BY-SA 2.0).

PORTLAND, USA, Nov 8 2022 (IPS) – Contrary to the often-cited hype and nonsense of some celebrities reported in the news media, the world’s population of 8,000,000,000 human beings is not going to collapse any time soon.

Moreover, that fancied collapse of world population is neither the biggest problem facing the world nor is that false notion a much bigger risk to civilization than climate change, which is certainly humanity’s greatest challenge.

Picture : India TV News

According to recent projections, the world’s population is expected to continue increasing over the coming decades. Hundreds of millions of more people are projected to be added to the planet, but at a slower pace than during the recent past.

The expected slowdown in the growth of world population does not constitute a problem. The global demographic slowdown clearly signals social, economic, environmental and climatic successes and benefits for human life on planet Earth.

Many of those calling for increased rates of population growth through higher birth rates and more immigration are simply promoting Ponzi demography. The underlying strategy of Ponzi demography is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs incurred from increased population growth.

World population reached the 1 billion milestone in 1804. World population doubled to 2 billion in 1927, doubled again to 4 billion in 1974, and then doubled a third time to 8 billion in 2022

Throughout the many centuries of human history, the 20th century was an exceptional record-breaking period demographically.

World population nearly quadrupled from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 6.1 billion by the close of the century. In addition, the world’s population annual growth rate peaked at 2.3 percent in 1963 and the annual increase reached a record high of 93 million in 1990.

Since the start of the 21st century, the world’s population has increased by nearly 2 billion people, from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 8 billion in 2022. Over that time period, the world’s annual rate of population growth declined from 1.3 percent to 0.8 percent, with the world’s annual demographic increase going from 82 million to 67 million today.

While mortality continues to play an important role in the growth of the world’s population, as witnessed recently with the COVID-19 pandemic, fertility is expected to be the major determinant of the future size of world population.

The world’s average fertility rate of approximately 2.3 births per woman in 2020 is less than half the average fertility rates during the 1950s and 1960s.

The United Nations medium variant population projection assumes fertility rates will continue to decline. By the century’s close the total fertility rate is expected to decline to a global average of 1.8 births per woman, which is one-third the rate of the early 1960s and well below the fertility replacement level.

The medium variant projection results in an increasing world population that reaches 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 approximately a half child above and below the medium variant, respectively. Accordingly, world population by 2100 ends up being substantially larger in the high variant at 14.8 billion and substantially smaller in the low variant at 7.0 billion (Figure 2).

Another alternative population projection, which is unlikely but instructive, is the constant variant. That projection variant assumes the current fertility rates of countries remain unchanged or constant at their current levels throughout the remainder of the 21st century. The constant variant results in a projected world population at the close of the century that is more than double its current size, 19.2 versus 8.0 billion.

Although world population is projected to continue increasing over the coming decades, considerable diversity exists in the future population growth of countries.

The populations of some 50 countries, including China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Spain, are expected to decline in size by midcentury due to low fertility rates. At the same time, the populations of about two dozen other countries, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia and Sudan, are expected to increase substantially due to their comparatively high fertility rates.

A comparison of the growth of the populations according to the medium variant for the four projected largest countries by midcentury, i.e., China, India, Nigeria, and the United States, highlights the diversity of population growth expected during the 21st century.

China’s current population size is estimated to be near its peak at approximately 1.4 billion. Due to its fertility rate of 1.16 births per woman, which is close to half the replacement level and is assumed to remain relatively low over the coming decades, the Chinese population is expected to decline to 1.3 billion by 2050 and decline further to 0.8 billion by 2100.

In contrast, India’s population, which has an estimated fertility rate of 2.0 births per woman that is expected to decline further, is continuing to increase in size. As a result of that demographic growth, India’s population will likely overtake China’s population by 2023. By 2060 India’s population is projected 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 world’s largest population after China and India, is expected to continue increasing in size largely due to immigration. By 2050 the U.S. population is projected to reach 375 million and be close to 400 million by the century’s close.

Nigeria’s rapidly growing population, which more than doubled over the past 30 years from 100 million in 1992 to 219 million in 2022, is expected to continue its rapid demographic growth for the remainder of the century. The population of Nigeria is expected to be larger than the U.S. population by 2050, when it reaches 377 million, and then increase to 500 mil1ion in 2077 and 546 million by the century’s close.

Admittedly, the future size of the world’s population remains uncertain. Demographic conditions, especially mortality levels as recently witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic, could change markedly and future fertility rates may also follow different patterns from those being assumed in the most recent population projections.

Nevertheless, it appears that the world’s current population of 8 billion will continue increasing over the coming decades, likely gaining an additional 2 billion people by around midcentury.

The expected demographic growth of the world’s population of 8 billion during the 21st century poses daunting challenges. Prominent among those challenges are dire concerns about food, water and energy supplies, natural resources, biodiversity, pollution, the environment, and of course climate change, considered by most, including the world’s scientists, to be humanity’s greatest challenge.

(Joseph Chamie is an independent consulting demographer, a 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.”)

Global Population Growth Diversity Continuing In The 21st Century

China, the world’s most populous country is expected to be overtaken by India in 2023. Moreover, by 2060 India’s population is projected to be nearly a half billion more than China’s.

(IPS) – While the world’s population of 8 billion is continuing to increase and projected to reach 9 billion by 2037 and 10 billion by 2058, considerable diversity in the population growth of countries is continuing in the 21st century.

At one extreme are some 50 countries, accounting for close to 30 percent of today’s world population, whose populations are expected to decline over the coming decades.

By 2060, for example, those projected population declines include 9 percent in Germany, 11 percent in Russia, 13 percent in Spain, 15 percent in China, 17 percent in Poland, 18 percent in Italy, 21 percent in South Korea, 22 percent in Japan, and 31 percent in Bulgaria (Figure 1).

In terms of the size of those population declines, the largest is in China with a projected decline of 218 million by 2060. Following China are population declines in Japan and Russia of 27 million and 16 million, respectively.

At the other extreme, the population of 25 countries, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, are expected to more than double by 2060. Those projected population increases by 2060 include 106 percent in Afghanistan, 109 percent in Sudan, 113 percent in Uganda, 136 percent in Tanzania, 142 percent in Angola, 147 percent in Somalia, 167 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 227 percent in Niger

With respect to the size of the populations that are projected to more than double, the largest is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with a projected increase of 165 million by 2060. DRC is followed by population increases in Tanzania and Niger of 89 million and 60 million, respectively.

In between the extremes of declining and doubling populations are 120 intermediate growth countries. They account for about 60 percent of today’s world population and are projected to have larger populations by 2060 to varying degrees.

Those projected increases in population size include 13 percent in the United States, 17 percent New Zealand, 20 percent in India, 24 percent in Canada, 29 percent in Australia, 38 percent Saudi Arabia, 58 percent Israel, 95 percent in Nigeria, and 98 percent in Ethiopia (Figure 3).

Among the intermediate growth countries, the largest expected population growth is in India with a projected increase of 278 million by 2060. India is followed by Nigeria and Ethiopia with population increases of 208 million and 121 million, respectively.

The continuing significant differences in the rates demographic growth are resulting in a noteworthy reordering of countries by population size.

For example, while in 1980 about half of the 15 largest country populations were developed countries, by 2020 that number declined to one country, the United States. Also, Nigeria, which was eleventh largest population in 1980, was the seventh largest in 2020 and is projected to be the third largest population in 2060 with the United States moving to fourth place (Table 1).

China, the world’s most populous country is expected to be overtaken by India in 2023. Moreover, by 2060 India’s population is projected to be nearly a half billion more than China’s, 1.7 billion versus 1.2 billion, respectively.

The major explanation behind the diversity in population growth rates is differing fertility levels. While the countries whose populations are projected to at least double by 2060 have fertility rates of four to six births per woman, those whose populations are projected to decline have fertility rates below two births per woman.

Europe’s current population of 744 million is expected to decline to 703 million by midcentury. By the century’s close the continent’s population is projected to be a fifth smaller than it is today, i.e., from 744 million to 585 million

About two-thirds of the world’s population of 8 billion live in a country, including the three most populous China, India and the United States, where the fertility rate has fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. In addition, most of those populations have experienced low fertility rates for decades.

Also, many countries are experiencing fertility rates that are approximately half the replacement level or less. For example, the total fertility rate declined to 1.2 births per woman for China and Italy, 1.3 for Japan and Spain, with South Korea reaching a record low of 0.8 births per woman.

The population of some countries with below replacement fertility, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, are projected to continue growing due to international migration. However, if international migration to those countries stopped, their populations would begin declining in a few decades just like other countries with below replacement fertility levels.

In hopes of avoiding population decline, many countries are seeking to raise their fertility rates back to at least the replacement level. Among the countries with below replacement fertility close to two-thirds have adopted policies to increase their rates, including baby bonuses, family allowances, parental leave, tax incentives, and flexible work schedules.

Most recently, China announced new measures to raise its below replacement fertility rate by making it easier to work and raise a family. Those measures include flexible working arrangements and preferential housing policies for families, as well as support on education, employment, and taxes to encourage childbearing.

Despite the desires, policies, and programs of governments to raise fertility levels, returning to replacement level fertility is not envisaged for the foreseeable future.

The world’s average total fertility rate of 2.4 births per woman in 2020, which is about half the levels during the 1950s and 1960s, is projected to decline to the replacement level by midcentury and to 1.8 births per woman by the end of the 21st century. Consequently, by 2050 some 50 countries are expected to have smaller populations than today, and that number is projected to rise to 72 countries by 2100.

As many of those countries are in Europe, that continent’s current population of 744 million is expected to decline to 703 million by midcentury. By the century’s close Europe’s population is projected to be a fifth smaller than it is today, i.e., from 744 million to 585 million.

In contrast, the populations of roughly three dozen countries with current fertility levels of more than four births per woman are expected to continue growing throughout the century.

As most of those countries are in Africa, that continent’s population is projected to double by around midcentury. Moreover, by close of the 21st century Africa’s population is projected to be triple its current size, i.e., from 1.3 billion to 3.9 billion.

In sum, considerable diversity in the growth of populations is expected to continue throughout the 21st century. While the populations of many countries are projected to decline, the populations of many others are projected to increase. The net result of that diversity is the world’s current population of 8 billion is expected to increase to 10 billion around midcentury.

(Joseph Chamie is a consulting demographer, a 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.”)

An Open Borders World

A world with open borders, as some strongly advocate while others insist on maintaining controlled borders, is an interesting exercise to consider given its potential consequences for nations, the planet’s 8 billion human inhabitants, climate change, and the environment.

Based on international surveys of 152 countries taken several years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 15 percent of the world’s adults said that they would like to migrate permanently to another country if they could. Based on that percentage for adults plus their family members, the estimated number of people who want to migrate in 2022 is likely to be no less than 1.5 billion.

Seven destination countries attract half of those wanting to migrate to another country. The top destination country at 21 percent of those wanting to migrate is the United States. Substantially lower, Canada and Germany are next at 6 percent, followed by France and Australia at 5 percent, the United Kingdom at 4 percent, and Saudi Arabia at 3 percent

The figure of 1.5 billion wanting to migrate is more than 5 times the estimated number of immigrants in the world in 2020, or about 281 million. The figure of potential immigrants is also approximately 500 times the annual flow of immigrants globally.

The two regions with the highest proportions wanting to migrate to another country if they had the chance are sub-Saharan Africa at 33 percent and Latin America and the Caribbean at 27 percent. In addition, in 13 countries at least half of their populations would like to migrate to another country.

The top three countries with the proportion of their adult populations wanting to migrate are Sierra Leone at 71 percent, Liberia at 66 percent, and Haiti at 63 percent. They are followed by Albania at 60 percent, El Salvador at 52 percent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo at 50 percent.

Seven destination countries attract half of those wanting to migrate to another country. The top destination country at 21 percent of those wanting to migrate is the United States. Substantially lower, Canada and Germany are next at 6 percent, followed by France and Australia at 5 percent, the United Kingdom at 4 percent, and Saudi Arabia at 3 percent.

Among those seven destination countries, the numbers wanting to migrate are greater than the current populations of five of them. For example, the number of people wanting to migrate to Canada is 90 million versus its current population of 38 million. Similarly, the number wanting to migrate to Germany is 94 million versus its current population of 84 million. In the remaining two countries, the United States and the United Kingdom, the numbers wanting to migrate are nearly the same size as their current populations.

Source: United Nations and Gallup.

In addition to its impact on the size of populations, open borders would alter the ethnic, religious, and linguistic composition of populations, leading to increased cultural diversity. Past and present international migration flows have demonstrated alterations in the cultural composition of populations.

In the United States, for example, since 1965 when the Immigration and National Act on country of origin was passed, the proportion Hispanic increased nearly five-fold, from 4 percent to 19 percent in 2020, and the proportion non-Hispanic white declined from 84 percent to 58 percent. Similarly in Germany, the proportion Muslim since 1965 has increased five-fold, from less than 1 percent to 5 percent of the population in 2020.

Various reasons have been offered both in support and in opposition to an open borders world. For example, those opposed believe open borders would increase security threats, damage domestic economies, benefit big business and elites, increase societal costs, encourage brain drain, facilitate illegal trade, reduce labor wages, undermine cultural integrity, and create integration problems (Table 1).

Source: Author’s compilation.

In contrast, those in support believe open borders would provide a basic human right, reduce poverty, increase GDP growth, reduce border control costs, increase the labor supply, provide talented workers, promote travel, reduce time and costs of travel, raise a country’s tax base, promote cultural diversity, and contribute to global interdependence.

Open borders would certainly impact the cultural composition of populations. Even without open borders, the current changes in the cultural composition of populations being brought about by international migration have not only raised public concerns but have also contributed to the growing influence of nativist and far-right political parties.

The nativist parties are typically opposed to immigration, seeing it as a threat to their national cultural integrity. In contrast, those supportive of immigration welcome the arrival of people with differing backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. They view immigration it as a natural, ongoing human phenomenon that enriches societies.

Open borders would also have consequences on climate change and the environment. Large numbers of people would be migrating to countries with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita. For example, while the world average of tons of CO2 equivalent per person is about 6, the level in the United States is about three times as large at 19.

Similarly, open borders would impact the environment. The migration to the high consumption destination countries would lead to increased biodiversity loss, pollution, and congestion.

An open borders world is not likely to happen any time soon. However, recent large-scale immigration flows, both legal and illegal, are substantially impacting government programs, domestic politics, international relations, and public opinion as well as the size and composition of the populations.

In virtually every region, governments appear to be at a loss on how best to address international migration, especially the waves of illegal migration arriving daily at international borders and the many already residing unlawfully within their countries. International conventions, agreements, and compacts concerning international migration are largely viewed as being outdated, unrealistic, and ineffective in dealing with today’s international migration issues.

The supply of men, women, and children in poor developing countries wanting to migrate greatly exceeds the demand for those migrants in wealthy developed countries by a factor of about five hundred.

The result is the Great Migration Clash, i.e., a worldwide struggle between those who “want out” of their countries and those who want others to “keep out” of their countries.

Given the enormous difference in supply and demand, the Migration Clash is unlikely to be resolved by simply asking destination countries to raise their immigration levels. To resolve the Migration Clash will require considerably improving the social, economic, political, and environmental conditions of the populations in the migrant sending countries.

Achieving those desirable development goals any time soon, however, appears as unlikely as establishing an open borders world. Therefore, countries will continue dealing the best they can with the consequences of controlled borders and the Great Migration Clash.

Joseph Chamie is a consulting demographer, a 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.”

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