UNITED NATIONS – The Earth will be home to some 9.7 billion people in 2050 and 11 billion in 2100, although the population will grow at a slower pace than had been forecast two years ago, the United Nations announced on Monday in its biannual population report in which it warns about aging populations in Europe and North America.
In the updated document, the international body says that in the next 30 years the world’s current population of 7.7 billion will grow by about 2 billion.
In its 2017 study on population growth, the UN had forecast that there would be 9.8 billion people on the planet in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.
“The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” emphasizes, among other things, the aging of the world’s population “due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.”
The algorithm used to forecast population growth also found that the number of countries experiencing a reduction in their populations is increasing.
Along those lines, the report emphasizes that in 2050 about 16 percent of the world’s population will be over 65 years of age, compared with 9 percent at present. By regions, Europe and North America will have a much higher than average number of over-65 citizens: 25 percent.
The UN warns that this aging trend – in 2050 there will be 426 million people over age 80, compared with 143 million now – brings with it a decline in the proportion of the working age population, meaning that this exerts pressure on social security systems which rely on wage-earners to contribute part of their pay to such safety-net programs.
The report notes that since 2010 27 countries or areas have experienced a decline of 1 percent or more in the size of their populations due to lower fertility levels, with the fertility rate having fallen from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019, and it is predicted that the rate will stand at around 2.2 by 2050.
The UN calculates that, without migration, a level of 2.1 births per woman is necessary to merely ensure generational replacement of the population. Anything less than that leads to overall population decline and levels higher than that result in a growing population.
The study says that between 2019 and 2050 55 of the world’s present-day countries will experience declines of 1 percent or greater in their populations and that in 26 of them the reduction will be at least 10 percent.
The report also says that migration has become an important component of population change in certain countries, due to the demand elsewhere for migrant workers. Specifically, these countries include Bangladesh, Nepal and The Philippines.
In addition, countries such as Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela are experiencing significant out-migration of their populations due to violence, lack of security or wars.
In contrast, the report says that between 2010 and 2020 about 10 countries – including Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine – will experience a net inflow of migrants, which will help compensate for population losses due to the fact that deaths exceed births in those countries.
The countries that will experience the greatest population growth, in descending order, are predicted to be India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.
India should surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2027, a little later than calculated in the 2017 report.
By regions, the study forecasts that the population of Africa will increase by 99 percent by 2050, whereas Europe and North America will grow by 2 percent, East and Southeast Asia by 3 percent, Latin America and the Caribbean by 18 percent, Central and South Asia by 25 percent, Australia and New Zealand by 28 percent, Southern Africa and Western Asia by 46 percent and Oceania (not including Australia and New Zealand) by 56 percent.