By November 15, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion, and by 2023, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country, according to a new report from the United Nations. The international agency listed these projections among several key highlights in its annual World Population Prospect report, released to mark World Population Day. “This is a milestone year, when we anticipate the birth of the Earth’s eight billionth inhabitant,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, reacting to the report’s findings. “This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity and our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” he said. “At the same time, it is 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.”
After reaching the 8 billion mark in November, experts note in the report that the world’s population will increase by another half a billion by 2030. By 2050, the global population is expected to hit 9.7 billion and 10.4 billion by 2100. This growth, however, will not be evenly distributed. More than half of the 2.4 billion increase in the global population expected over the next 28 years will be concentrated in just eight countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania. “Disparate growth rates among the world’s largest countries will re-order their ranking by size. India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country during 2023. Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to continue growing through 2100 and to contribute more than half of the global population increase anticipated through 2050,” the report explained.
Population growth in Australia and New Zealand, Northern Africa, Western Asia and Oceania is expected to be slower through the end of this century, but will be positive, the report said. Experts further project that populations of East and South-East Asia, Central and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and North America are projected to reach their peak population and begin to decline by 2100. Declining levels of mortality have resulted in an increased level of life expectancy at birth, which reached 72.8 years in 2019. Women have a longer life expectancy than men. “Life expectancy at birth for women exceeded that for men by 5.4 years globally, with female and male life expectancies standing at 73.8 and 68.4, respectively. A female survival advantage is observed in all regions and countries, ranging from 7 years in Latin America and the Caribbean to 2.9 years in Australia and New Zealand,” the report said.
Despite the population growth, the global fertility rate has fallen from five births per woman in 1950 to 2.3 births per woman in 2021. This fertility rate is expected to drop even further to 2.1 births per woman by 2050. The report explained that in 2020, the world’s population growth rate fell under 1% per year for the first time since 1950. Some two-thirds of the global population is now reportedly living in a country where lifetime fertility is below the 2.1 births per woman required to sustain populations with low mortality over the long run. The share of the global population aged 65 years or above is also projected to rise from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050. “By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 years or over worldwide is projected to be more than twice the number of children under age 5,” the report said, “and about the same as the number of children under age 12.
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