November 15, 2022, is predicted to be the day that the global population reaches eight billion.
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.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said, “Let us protect human rights and the ability of all individuals to make informed choices about whether and when to have children.” Guterres added that “eight billion people means eight billion opportunities to live dignified and fulfilled lives”. He urged everyone to contribute to a common future with greater equality and solidarity for the planet and future generations.
The annual 2022 World Population Prospect report notes that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen to less than one per cent in 2020.
Fertility rates 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.
61 countries or regions, 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.
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.
“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”.
The report said 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.
More Older People, Living Longer
By 2050 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 public programs for 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.
The World Population Fund (UNFPA) upheld that we live in a world in which “higher shares of people are educated and live healthier lives than at any previous point in history”. It said, “Societies that invest in their people, in their rights and choices, have proven time and again that this is the road to the prosperity and peace that everyone wants — and deserves.”