World Population Prospects 2022, published today on World Population Day, predicts that the world’s population will hit 8 billion on November 15, 2022, and that India would overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in 2023.
“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,” he added.
In 2020, the world’s population actually decreased by less than 1%, rising at its sluggish rate since 1950. According to the United Nations’ most recent estimates, the world’s population may reach 8.5 billion people in 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050. The population is predicted to peak at 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and stay there until 2100.
According to World Population Prospects 2022, fertility has decreased significantly in many nations during the past few decades. Currently, two-thirds of the world’s population reside in regions or nations with lifetime fertility rates below 2.1 births per woman, or roughly the number needed for a population with low mortality to experience long-term growth of zero. Between 2022 and 2050, it is predicted that the populations of 61 countries or regions will decline by 1% or more. This is due to persistently low fertility rates and, in some cases, high emigration rates.
Up to 2050, eight nations are expected to host more than half of the projected increase in the world’s population: 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.
“The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN 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.”
The proportion of the population that is working age (between 25 and 64 years old) has been rising across most of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in several regions of Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as a result of recent declines in fertility. The “demographic dividend,” or change in the age distribution, offers a limited window for enhanced per-capita economic development. Countries should invest in the further development of their human capital in order to maximize the potential advantages of a favorable age distribution. To do this, they should make sure that everyone has access to quality healthcare and education, as well as encourage opportunities for productive employment and decent work.
The percentage of people in the world over the age of 65 is anticipated to increase from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050. At that time, it’s anticipated that there will be roughly as many people over 65 as there are under 12 and more than twice as many over 65 as under 5. Developing universal health care and long-term care systems, as well as strengthening the sustainability of social security and pension systems, are all actions that countries with aging populations should take to adjust governmental programs to the rising number of older people.
In 2019, the average life expectancy at birth was 72.8 years, an increase of about 9 years since 1990. It is anticipated that further mortality declines will lead to an average worldwide lifetime of roughly 77.2 years in 2050. But in 2021, the least developed nations’ life expectancy lagged 7 years behind the average worldwide.
The three elements of population change have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the average life expectancy at birth declined to 71.0 years. While there is minimal evidence of an impact on fertility levels or trends in many other nations, some countries may have seen short-term decreases in the number of births and pregnancies due to the pandemic’s multiple waves. All types of human mobility, including international migration, were severely constrained by the epidemic.
“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,” added John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.