Many people have long feared that the future “demographic explosion” would overwhelm the planet, AFP reported On the 15th. However, a new study suggests that this concern may be redundant. A study published Friday in The Lancet by the Institute for Health Indicators and Assessments at the University of Washington predicts that the global population will experience negative growth in the second half of this century. The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, questions the “continued population growth” of the entire 21st century.
The study found that the world’s population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and then gradually decline to 8.8 billion by 2100. The previous United Nations report on the world’s population said that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion, 2100 the Earth will carry 10.9 billion people “heavy burden.” Therefore, if IHME’s projections are accurate, the world’s population will be about 2 billion fewer by the end of the century than previously predicted by the United Nations.
The report says the decline in population growth is mainly due to improved access to modern contraception and education for women, which will reduce the average fertility rate for women globally from the current 2.37 children per woman to 1.66 children per woman by 2100. Fertility rates are declining much faster than the United Nations predicts. Of the 195 countries studied by the IHME, 183 had fertility rates falling below 2.1 children per woman by 2100.
Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, said that while the population decline was “good news for the environment (reducing pressure on food production, reducing carbon emissions, etc.), the pyramid-shaped demographics (i.e., older people outnumber children) will have far-reaching negative economic, family and social impacts”.
There will be a sharp decline in populations in Asia and Europe, with 23 countries seeing at least half the population: Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Spain, Italy, etc., and only France. The report predicts that China may lose nearly half of its population (now 1.4 billion now, or 730 million by 2100), and that a shrinking working population will hamper its economic growth. The report argues that China’s GDP will surpass that of the United States by 2050, but will then be “overtaken” by the United States in the second half of this century because of a decline in population.
By contrast, the population of sub-Saharan Africa will triple over the next 80 years, from 1 billion to 3 billion. The report also predicts that Nigeria will become the world’s second most populous country after India by 2100, with India, Nigeria, China, the United States and Pakistan among the five most populous countries in the world.