World Population to Reach 7 Billion in 2011
Posted on July 30, 2010 by derek
New York Times: With 267 people being born every minute and 108 dying, the world’s population will top seven billion next year, a research group projects, while the ratio of working-age adults to support the elderly in developed countries declines precipitously because of lower birthrates and longer life spans.
In a sobering assessment of those two trends, William P. Butz, president of the Population Reference Bureau, said that “chronically low birthrates in developed countries are beginning to challenge the health and financial security of the elderly” at the same time that “developing countries are adding over 80 million to the population each year and the poorest of those countries are adding 20 million, exacerbating poverty and threatening the environment.”
Projections, especially over decades, are vulnerable to changes in immigration, retirement ages, birthrates, health care and other variables, but in releasing the bureau’s 2010 population data sheet, Carl Haub, its senior demographer, estimated this week that by 2050 the planet will be home to more than nine billion people.
Even with a decline in birthrates in less developed countries from 6 children per woman in 1950 to 2.5 today (and to 2 children or less in Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Thailand and Turkey), the population of Africa is projected to at least double by midcentury to 2.1 billion. Asia will add an additional 1.3 billion.
While the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand will continue to grow because of higher birthrates and immigration, Europe, Japan and South Korea will shrink (although the recession reduced birthrates in the United States and Spain and slowed rising birthrates in Russia and Norway).
In Japan, the population of working-age people, typically defined as those 15 to 64, compared with the population 65 and older that is dependent on this younger group, is projected to decline to a ratio of one to one, from the current three to one. Worldwide, the ratio of working age people for every person in the older age group is expected to decline to four to one, from nine to one now.
Earlier this week, Eurostat, the statistical arm of the 27-nation European Union, reported that while the union’s population topped a half billion this year, 900,000 of the 1.4 million growth from the year before resulted from immigration. Eurostat has predicted that deaths will outpace births in five years, a trend that has already occurred in Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary.
While the bulge in younger people, if they are educated, presents a potential “demographic dividend” for countries like Bangladesh and Brazil, the shrinking proportion of working-age people elsewhere may place a strain on governments and lead them to raise retirement ages and to encourage alternative job opportunities for older workers.
The Population Reference Bureau said that by 2050, Russia and Japan would be bumped from the 10 most populous countries by Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.