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World population set to hit eight billion by next week

According to a new report released on World Population Day, the global human population is set to reach eight billion on 15 November 2022, with India projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. Although the global population is currently growing at the slowest rate since 1950, experts suggest that it could reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and 10.3 billion by 2080.

“This year’s World Population Day falls during a milestone year, when we anticipate the birth of the Earth’s eight billionth inhabitant. This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “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.”

Scientists argue that over half of the projected increase in world population 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 – with sub-Saharan African countries expected to contribute more than half of the anticipated increase by mid-century. 

Thanks to recent reductions in fertility, the percent of population at working age (25 to 64 years) has been increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as parts of Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Moreover, the share of global population aged 65 or older is projected to rise from 10 percent in 2022 to 16 percent in 2050, making it an imperative for countries with aging populations to adapt public programs to the growing number of older persons, by establishing universal health care and long-term care systems and by improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems.

“The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional” said Liu Zhenmin, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combatting hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.

“Conversely, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education and gender equality, will contribute to reducing fertility levels and slowing global population growth.”

“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. 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,” concluded John Wilmoth, the director of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The World Population Prospects 2022 can be found here.

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By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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