The world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion on Tuesday, 15 November 2022, and India is projected to surpass China as the most populated country next year, according to a report by the United Nations (UN).
The report – World Population Prospects 2022 – is the 27th official UN population estimates and projections. It was released on World Population Day this year on 11 July.
What Does the Report State?
The projections suggest that the world’s population would grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. It is projected to peak at around 10.4 billion during the 2080s and remain stagnant till 2100.
The projections reveal that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under 1 percent in 2020.
So what is the significance of the projections, and what do they reveal about population trends in the coming years?
Changes in Demographic Trends:
The populations of 61 countries or areas are to decrease by 1 percent or more between 2022 and 2050. This is due to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration.
The global population at age 65 and above is projected to rise from 10 percent in 2022 to 16 percent in 2050.
The global life expectancy at birth went up to 72.8 years in 2019, an improvement of almost 9 years since 1990. The average global longevity is expected to go up to around 77.2 years in 2050.
More than half the projected increase is to be concentrated in the following eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
In countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the share of the working population, that is between 25 and 64 years, has been increasing due to recent deductions in fertility.
In a statement earlier, the UN Secretary General António Guterres, said, “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, recognise our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates."
What Does This Mean for Countries?
This key shift in age distribution gives countries an opportunity for economic growth per capita or “demographic dividend.” In order to maximise the benefits of this trend, the UN suggests that countries should invest in the further development of their human capital. Countries can do so by ensuring access to health care, better quality of education, and promoting opportunities for productive employment.
On the other hand, countries with aging populations are advised to take steps to adapt public programmes to the growing number of older persons. Steps include ensuring universal health care, long-term care systems while improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems.
Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs said in a statement, “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.”
Impact of the Pandemic:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was reflected in the major components of population change.
First, global life expectancy at birth fell to 71.0 years in 2021. In countries with successive waves of COVID, there could be short-term reductions in number of pregnancies and births. In other countries, there is little evidence to support this. The pandemic also restricted forms of mobility such as international migration.
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