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The UN revises down its population forecasts


THE UNITED NATIONS is the world’s most important watcher of human tides. Its demographers have a good record of predicting global population change, although they have made mistakes about individual countries. So it is worth paying attention when the UN revises its figures, as it does every few years. The latest bulletin is especially surprising.

Recent revisions have sent the projected global population upwards. The one released on June 17th cuts it back. The UN now thinks the world will contain a little over 9.7bn people in 2050 and just under 10.9bn in 2100. The first figure is 37m lower than the UN forecast two years ago. The latter is 309m lower—almost an America’s worth of people revised away.

Birth rates are falling faster than expected in some developing countries. In the late 1980s Kenya had a fertility rate of 6.5, implying a woman could expect to have that many children. Two years ago the UN reckoned Kenya’s fertility rate would drop to 2.1 (the point at which the population sustains itself naturally) only in the late 2070s. Because of new data, it now thinks Kenya will reach that point a decade earlier. Uganda also looks less fecund. A smaller cut to India’s fertility rate has a big effect on the global population forecasts because India has so many people.

The UN’s population model assumes that countries with fertility rates well below two will bounce back a little. Even in countries where babies have become rare, most people continue to believe that the ideal family contains two or even three kids. But the recovery keeps failing to happen in some places, so the demographers have changed their forecasts in a second way. They now expect some countries with extremely low birth rates, such as Italy, Japan and South Korea, to stay that way for years. Korea, which has a fertility rate of just 1.1, is now expected to have 30m people in 2100—down from 51m today.

Another change has to do with death. Most people are living longer. The biggest improvement is in east and southern Africa, where HIV is being treated better. In America, however, the opioid epidemic has pushed up the death rate, especially for men. The chance of a 15-year-old boy dying by the age of 50 is now higher in America than in Bangladesh. It would be nice if the American forecast, at least, proved to be too pessimistic.



8 Comments on "The UN revises down its population forecasts"

  1. Quickbooks Pro SUpport on Fri, 21st Jun 2019 6:55 am 

    that seems to be really interesting.

  2. Rich Diana on Fri, 21st Jun 2019 8:57 am 

    ” Uganda looks less fecund.” Glory be, we be saved by Ugandas diminished fecundity. Getting to 9 billion is a disaster as is the present 7.8. The UN processes these tabulations as if they are reporting on this years llama levels. We are in a Climate Emergency and the UN blithely espouses on a few billion here or there. The powers that be are doing all that they can to minimize the damage that their policies are causing. The bread and circuses are keeping the rabble in check barely at this point but you know it cannot last. Prepare shit, better to be ready to run for your lives like the millions of climate refugees are doing at this moment.

  3. Larry on Fri, 21st Jun 2019 3:30 pm 

    They never go beyond 2100. Please predict population in 2200 and 2300, UN.

  4. shortonoil on Sat, 22nd Jun 2019 6:03 pm 

    Human male sperm count has fallen 50% in the last 40 years; and no one knows why? At its present rate of decline the species will be extinct in a few generations! But, according to the UN, population is going to fall a little ity bity bit. How reassuring. That is how you don’t spook the sheep.

  5. Famlin on Sat, 22nd Jun 2019 9:28 pm 

    Nigerias annual population growth is more than Chinas even though their population is only 1/7.

    Lower the lifestyle higher the population growth and vice versa.
    Ideally the chinese, japanese, koreans should let their people work less and spend more time with the family to increase their population.

  6. Famlin on Sat, 22nd Jun 2019 9:38 pm 

    Increased smart phone usage will lead to more people spending less time with the family which means slower population growth in the developed world and even in developing asia.

    But all these gadgets are still outside the scope of most africans and so their population is growing much faster.

    Their estimate for 2050 may be somewhat accurate, but 2100 is way too far and the estimate may never be correct.

  7. Cloggie on Sun, 23rd Jun 2019 10:05 am 

    The news gets even better: population bomb has been defused

    “Die Weltbevölkerung wird neun Milliarden Menschen nie erreichen. Sie wird ihren Gipfelpunkt von acht Milliarden im Jahr 2040 erreichen und dann zurückgehen.”

    Jørgen Randers, Mitautor der Studie “Die Grenzen des Wachstums” des Club of Rome, zitiert im Buch “Empty Planet” (2019)

    There never will be 9 billion people on this planet. Peak Human will be 8 billion in 2040.

    Jørgen Randers says so, so it is true.

  8. Cloggie on Sun, 23rd Jun 2019 10:10 am 

    “But all these gadgets are still outside the scope of most africans and so their population is growing much faster.”


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