November 15, 2022 is predicted to be the day that the global population reaches eight billion. The projection is revealed in the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 report, released on July 11 to coincide with World Population Day The latest UN projections suggest that the world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s. The population is expected to remain at that level until 2100.
However, the annual World Population Prospect report also notes that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen to less than one per cent in 2020.
Fertility, the report declares, has fallen markedly in recent decades for many countries: today, two-thirds of the global population lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run, for a population with low mortality.
In 61 countries or areas, the population is expected to decrease by at least one per cent over the next three decades, as a result of sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on population change: global life expectancy at birth fell to 71 years in 2021 (down from 72.9 in 2019) and, in some countries, successive waves of the pandemic may have produced short-term reductions in numbers of pregnancies and births.
“Further actions by governments aimed at reducing fertility would have little impact on the pace of population growth between now and mid-century, because of the youthful age structure of today’s global population,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
“Nevertheless, 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”.
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. Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050.
Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-SecretaryGeneral for Economic and Social Affairs, warned that rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combatting hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.
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.
The report argues 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.
Achieving 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.
The world should expect to see far more grey hairs by 2050: by then, it is expected that the number of persons aged 65 years or over worldwide will be more than twice the number of children under the age of five, and about the same as the number under age 12.
Further reductions in mortality are projected to result in an average global longevity of around 77.2 years in 2050. Yet in 2021, life expectancy for the least developed countries lagged seven years behind the global average.
The report recommends that countries with ageing populations should take steps to adapt public programmes to the growing numbers of older persons, establishing universal health care and long-term care systems, and by improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems.
India to surpass China next year
To have a population of 1.668 billion in 2050
India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year, according to the report by the United Nations.
The World Population Prospects 2022 by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, said the world’s two most populous regions in 2022 were Eastern and SouthEastern Asia, with 2.3 billion people, representing 29 per cent of the global population, and Central and Southern Asia, with 2.1 billion, representing 26 per cent of the total world population. China and India accounted for the largest populations in these regions, with more than 1.4 billion each in 2022.
“Disparate population growth rates among the world’s largest countries will change their ranking by size: for example, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023,” the report said. According to the report, India’s population stands at 1.412 billion in 2022, compared to China’s 1.426 billion.
India, which will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation by 2023, is projected to have a population of 1.668 billion in 2050, way ahead of China’s 1.317 billion people by the middle of the century.
The report added that it is estimated that ten countries experienced a net outflow of more than 1 million migrants between 2010 and 2021. In many of these countries, these outflows were due to temporary labour movements, such as for Pakistan (net outflow of -16.5 million during 2010-2021), India (-3.5 million), Bangladesh (-2.9 million), Nepal (-1.6 million) and Sri Lanka (-1 million)