2022: World population prospects

On November 15, 2022, the number of people on earth is expected to cross the threshold of 8 billion. By 2050 the world’s population should reach 9.7 billion, peaking at approximately 10.4 billion in the 2080s. 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. Meanwhile, the world’s population is growing older, as global life expectancy continues to rise and fertility continues to fall. These are some of the key messages from the United Nations Population Division’s new world population estimates and projections (2022 Revision of World Population Prospects). 

In connection with its mission to diffuse knowledge in the scientific field of demography, INED has been chosen by the United Nations Population Division to announce and publicize the latest round of UN world population projections in France.

The new projections include the following 7 key messages:

1. The world’s population continues to increase, while growth rates vary greatly across regions

The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to nearly double by 2050 whereas the combined populations of Europe and North America will increase by only 0.4%.

2. Eight countries account for more than half of projected population growth between now and 2050

The greatest population increases are expected in the following countries (listed in descending order by projected growth): Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania. India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most heavily populated country in 2023.

3. Overall, women are having fewer babies, but fertility rates remain high in some parts of the world

Today, two-thirds of the world population live in a country or area where fertility is below 2.1 births per woman. In 2021, average fertility remained above that level in sub-Saharan Africa (at 4.6 children), Oceania, not including Australia and New Zealand (3.1), North Africa and Western Asia (2.8), and Central and Southern Asia (2.3). The global fertility rate, which fell from 3.3 births per woman in 1990 to 2.3 in 2021, is projected to decline further, to 2.1 by 2050.

4. People are living longer, but those in the poorest countries still live 7 years less than the global average

Life expectancy at birth globally, which rose from 64.0 years in 1990 to 72.8 in 2019, is expected to increase further, reaching 77.2 by 2050. While considerable progress has been made in closing the longevity differential between countries, substantial gaps remain. In 2021, life expectancy at birth in the least developed countries lagged 7 years behind the global average.

5. The world’s population is aging, and people over 65 are the fastest-growing age group

By 2050, one in six of the world’s inhabitants will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in ten in 2022 (10%). By 2050, according to UN projections, the number of people age 65 or over will be more than twice the number of children under age 5 and equivalent to the number of children under 12. The number of people age 80 or over is projected to triple, from 157 million in 2022 to 459 million in 2050. 

6. A growing number of countries are experiencing a reduction in population size

Increasing numbers of countries or areas have seen their populations fall due to low fertility and, in some cases, high emigration. From 2022 to 2050, the populations of 61 countries or regions are expected to fall by at least 1%; half of them may experience population declines of at least 10%. The population of China should fall by 110 million, or nearly 8%, between 2022 and 2050.  

7. Migration has become a major component of population change in some countries

From 2000 to 2020, the number of immigrants received by high-income countries exceeded those countries’ net natural increases (births minus deaths). Some of the largest migration movements (from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) are driven by workforce demand in high-income countries while others are the result of violent armed conflicts in the countries that migrants leave from (Syria, Venezuela, and Myanmar). 

Source: World Population Prospects 2022: Summary of Results
Contact: Gilles Pison

Online: July 2022