The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion now to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations has said.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a report that world population could reach a peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.
But Population Division director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population”.
The new projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected growth between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the US.
In sub-Saharan Africa, population is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.
Under-secretary general for economic and social affairs Lu Zhenmin said: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.
The report confirmed the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.
The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 by 2050.
A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.
In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, the report said.
But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost 1% or more of their population.
“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by 1% or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may...