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UN: World population to reach 9.7 billion in 2050

  • Published at 02:27 pm June 17th, 2019
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The latest assessment uses the results of 1,690 national population censuses

The world population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to a United Nations report.

The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights, which is published by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, provides a comprehensive overview of global demographic patterns and prospects, reports UNB.

The study concluded the world’s population could reach its peak around the end of the current century, at a level of nearly 11 billion.

The report also confirmed the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels, and the number of countries experiencing a reduction in population size is growing.

The resulting changes in the size, composition and distribution of the world’s population have important consequences for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the globally agreed targets for improving economic prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment.

The new population projections indicate that nine countries will make up more than half the projected growth of the global population between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States of America (in descending order of the expected increase).

Around 2027, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.

The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050 (99% increase).

Regions that may experience lower rates of population growth between 2019 and 2050 include Oceania excluding Australia/New Zealand (56%), Northern Africa and Western Asia (46%), Australia/New Zealand (28%), Central and Southern Asia (25%), Latin America and the Caribbean (18%), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (3%), and Europe and Northern America (2%).

Global fertility rate

The global fertility rate, which fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019, is projected to decline further to 2.2 in 2050.

“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,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, said.

People in the poorest countries still live 7 years less than the global average.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth for the world, which increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 72.6 years in 2019, is expected to increase further to 77.1 years in 2050.

By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%).

Regions where the share of the population aged 65 years or over is projected to double between 2019 and 2050 include Northern Africa, Western Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. 

The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

The potential support ratio, which compares numbers of persons at working ages to those over age 65, is falling around the world.

In Japan this ratio is 1.8, the lowest in the world.

An additional 29 countries, mostly in Europe and the Caribbean, already have potential support ratios below three.

By 2050, 48 countries, mostly in Europe, Northern America, and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, are expected to have potential support ratios below two.

Since 2010, 27 countries or areas have experienced a reduction of 1% or more in the size of their populations.

The impact of low fertility on population size is reinforced in some locations by high rates of emigration. 

Between 2019 and 2050, populations are projected to decrease by 1% or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10%.

In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2%, between 2019 and 2050.

The report includes updated population estimates from 1950 to the present for 235 countries or areas, based on detailed analyses of all available information about the relevant historical demographic trends.

The latest assessment uses the results of 1,690 national population censuses conducted between 1950 and 2018, as well as information from vital registration systems and from 2,700 nationally representative sample surveys.