World population outlook:Explosion or implosion?

Population and Societies

573, January 2020

Could world population growth stop by 2050 or even decrease before then? Drawing on United Nations projections, Henri Leridon examines the conditions for such a reversal, notably the crises in mortality and declines in fertility that it would imply, as well as their plausibility.

The world population was 7.7 billion in 2019, and the United Nations projects 9.7 billion in its medium-variant scenario, which assumes that world fertility continues to decline (from 2.5 children per woman in 2019 to 2.2 in 2050), and only 8.9 billion in its low-variant scenario in which fertility would decline even faster. Unless the entire world is hit by severe disasters on an unprecedented scale, it is difficult to imagine a world population much below 9 billion by 2050.

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