Will the world population continue to grow, stay the same, or fall?

In 2020 the world population was at nearly 8 billion. In 1800 it was only 1 billion. And over the last fifty year it has doubled, from 4 billion in 1974. It is expected to keep growing, and could reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. Why is growth expected to continue? Could the world population stabilize in the long term? Might it decrease in the coming decades? In any case, according to all projections the proportions of the world population represented by France and Europe will shrink. 

Why is the world population rising quickly?

The world population is continuing to rise because the number of births exceed the number of deaths: there are nearly three times as many births as deaths. And yet the pace of demographic growth is decreasing: fifty years ago it stood at 2% per year, and since then it has fallen by half, to 1.1% in 2020. The speed of population growth should continue to fall until near stabilization is reached, at between 10 and 11 billion people, a century from now. 

What explains the slowing growth rate?

Population growth deceleration is due to falling fertility. In 2020, the average number of children per woman was 2.4, whereas in 1950 it was more than twice that, at 5 children per woman. Fertility is still high (above 3 children) in Africa and the area ranging from Afghanistan through Pakistan and northern India. Future demographic growth will be concentrated in those regions. 

Will one in three persons be living in Africa in 2100?

The population of Africa, including North Africa, could rise four-fold in the coming century, from 1 billion in 2010 to a probable 2.5 billion in 2050 and over four billion in 2100, despite the AIDS epidemic. Whereas one in six human beings lives in Africa today, the figure will likely be over one in three a century from now. 

With half a billion inhabitants (513 million in 2020), the 28-member European Union (EU28) is currently home to one in fifteen people (7%); by 2050 the proportion is expected to fall to one in twenty (5%). France’s 67 million inhabitants represent slightly less than one percent of the world population (0.9%); by 2050 that share is expected to fall to 0.8%. 

Source: Gilles Pison et Sandrine Dauphin, 2019, Enjeux et perspectives démographiques en France 2020-2050. Un état des connaissances. Document de travail, Ined éditions.

Contacts: Gilles Pison, Sandrine Dauphin

Online: November 2021