World population prospects
Within little more than a decade there are likely to be around 8.5 billion people on earth, and almost 10 billion by 2050, compared to 7.7 billion today. A small number of countries will account for most of the increase. While some countries continue to grow rapidly, others are seeing their populations decline. At the same time, the world is growing older, as global life expectancy continues to rise and the fertility level continues to fall.
In connection with its mission to disseminate knowledge in the field of demography, INED was chosen by the United Nations Population Division to diffuse the latest round of UN world population projections.
7 key findings from the projections
1. The world’s population continues to increase, but growth rates vary greatly across regions
The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050 (99%) whereas the combined populations of Europe and North America will increase by only 2%.
2. Nine countries will make up more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050
The world’s population is projected to grow from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 8.5 billion in 2030 (10% increase), and further to 9.7 billion in 2050 (26%) and to 10.9 billion in 2100 (42%). The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050 (99%). Other regions will see varying rates of increase between 2019 and 2050: Oceania excluding Australia/New Zealand (56%), Northern Africa and Western Asia (46%), Australia/New Zealand (28%), Central and Southern Asia (25%), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (3%), and Europe and Northern America (2%).
5. Globally, women are having fewer babies, but fertility rates remain high in some parts of the world
Today, close to half of all people globally live in a country or area where fertility is below 2.1 births per woman over a lifetime. In 2019, fertility remains above this level, on average, in sub-Saharan Africa (4.6), Oceania excluding Australia/New Zealand (3.4), Northern Africa and Western Asia (2.9), and Central and Southern Asia (2.4). The global fertility rate, which fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019, is projected to decline further to 2.2 in 2050.
6. People are living longer, but those in the poorest countries still live 7 years less than the global average
Life expectancy at birth for the world, which increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 72.6 years in 2019, is expected to increase further to 77.1 years in 2050. While considerable progress has been made in closing the longevity differential between countries, large gaps remain. In 2019, life expectancy at birth in the least developed countries lags 7.4 years behind the global average,
7. The world’s population is growing older, with persons over age 65 being the fastest growing age group
By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%). By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.
9. A growing number of countries are experiencing a reduction in population size
Since 2010, 27 countries or areas have experienced a reduction in the size of their populations of one per cent or more. This is caused by low levels of fertility and, in some places, high rates of emigration. Between 2019 and 2050, populations are projected to decrease by one per cent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least ten per cent. In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or 2.2 per cent, between 2019 and 2050.
10. Migration has become a major component of population change in some countries
Between 2010 and 2020, Europe and Northern America, Northern Africa and Western Asia, and Australia/ New Zealand will be net receivers of international migrants, while other regions will be net senders.
Some of the largest migratory movements are driven by the demand for migrant workers (Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines) or by violence and armed conflict (Syria, Venezuela and Myanmar).