Come November 15, 2022, the day that the world would see global population reaching eight billion. Moreover, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. This projection is revealed in the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 report. The latest projections by the United Nations suggest that the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100.
SLOWEST GROWTH RATE SINCE 1950S
The UN in the Annual World Population Prospect report, released on Monday to coincide with World Population Day, however, points out that global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen to less than one per cent in 2020. It states that fertility has fallen markedly in recent decades for many countries. It noted that two thirds of the global population now lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman.
The Prospects report mentions that population is expected to decrease by at least one per cent over the next three decades in 61 countries or areas. This is attributed to low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic also had an effect on population change. The 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.
Meanwhile, Director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) John Wilmoth said; “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.”
GROWTH CONCENTRATED IN EIGHT COUNTRIES
In the report, the UN says that more than half of the projected increase 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. It mentioned that countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050. UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin warned that rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.
THE ‘DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND’
The UN states that demographic dividend was seen in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean because of reductions in fertility. Moreover, the analysis shows 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
The World Population Prospects says that the world could see more older people by 2050. It said that the world is expected to have more number of persons aged 65 years or over worldwide, which is more than twice the number of children under the age of five, and about the same as the number under age 12.
The report also 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.
On the report UN Secretary-General António Guterres reacted thus, “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,” he said.
WORLD POPULATION DAY
In his message, UN chief called for protecting human rights and the ability of all individuals to make informed choices about whether and when to have children. “We still live in a world of vast gender inequality – and we are witnessing renewed assaults on women’s rights, including on essential health services,” he said. He called the day 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”.
At the same time, Guterres described it as 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”.
Amidst COVID-19, the climate crisis, wars and conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, hunger and poverty, he attested that “our world is in peril”. “Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are still the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19”.
Guterres underscored 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.