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World Population

The world’s population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and decline to 8.8 billion by the end of the century, according to research by Washington University. This would mean that the world’s population could be 2 billion below UN forecasts by the end of the century. The study points out that some countries, including Japan, Spain, Thailand and Italy, will see their populations halve, while sub-Saharan Africa’s population will triple over the next 80 years. In addition, the number of older people will overtake the young, with 2.4 billion people over the age of 65 forecasts by 2100, compared with 1.7 billion under the age of 20. The standard estimate comes from a 2017 report by the UN, which forecast 10 billion global population in 2050, rising to 11 billion in 2100. The new study took a different approach concentrating on changes to the drivers of fertility, such as education levels and contraception availability.

However, the study goes on to point out that the major factors in shrinking the population are access to contraception and improvements in educating women and girls. If those trends reduce, higher growth will ensue. For instance, although sub-Saharan Africa’s population is projected to soar, its fertility rates are forecast to decline from 4.6 births per woman in 2017 to 1.7 by 2100. If that decline in fertility should fail to materialise, the overall growth will be much greater. Changes in the working-age population are particularly important for policymakers. China’s working-age population will decline from 950 million in 2017 to about 360 million by 2100, according to the forecast, while India’s will come down from 762 million to about 580 million. In Nigeria, the working-age population is forecast to increase from 86 million in 2017 to 460 million in 2100. Pressures for migration is likely to increase which could help those countries with rapidly declining populations, however, this will require more liberal immigration policies.

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Alastair Tempest

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