UN says 10 billion people expected in world by 2100

10:54, May 04, 2011      

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Hania Zlotnik, director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, speaks at a press conference releasing the 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects in New York, the United States, May 3, 2011. The world's population -- now nudging 7 billion people -- is expected to reach 9.3 billion in 2050 and 10.1 billion before the end of this century, the United Nations said on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Bai Jie)

The world's population -- now nudging 7 billion people -- is expected to reach 9.3 billion in 2050 and 10.1 billion before the end of this century, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

But there is a qualifier. The Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which released the figures in its 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects, said it was just the "medium variant," the usual choice for projecting long term trends.

Variants for low and high fertility countries also were considered.

The high variant, just half a statistical child above the medium variant, projected a world population of 10.6 billion in 2050 and 15.8 billion in 2100.

The high fertility countries are mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, 39 out of the 55, but there are also nine nations in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.

The low variant, half a child below the medium, produced a population projection of 8.1 billion people in 2050 but declined towards the second half of this century to reach 6.2 billion in 2100.

Low fertility nations include all of Europe except Iceland and Ireland, 19 of the 51 in Asia (including China), 14 out of the 39 in the Americas, two in Africa (Mauritius and Tunisia) and one in Oceania (Australia).

Hania Zlotnik, director of the Population Division, told reporters the populations of many countries are aging and will continue to do so as their fertility rates decline. The population of countries classed as low-fertility or intermediate-fertility would then peak well before the end of the century.

Also, by 2100 only the population of high-fertility countries would still be increasing, the report said.

According to the medium variant, in 2095-2100, the populations of both the low-fertility countries and the intermediate-fertility countries would be declining at a rate of approximately 0.3 percent per year. In sharp contrast, the population of the high fertility countries would still be increasing at a rate of 0.5 percent per year.

The report also said nine countries were expected to account for half of the world's projected increase from 2010 to 2050: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, United States (USA), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, China and Bangladesh.

Zlotnik said current projections were based on the assumption that fertility was going to decline from the current global level of 2.5 children per woman to 2.1 children per woman from now until 2050.

With the global population nearing 7 billion, Zlotnik said it was impossible to zero in on the exact date but expected it to hit or top 7 billion later this year.

With fertility levels varying markedly among countries, 42 percent of the world's population lives in low-fertility countries. Those countries are where women were not having enough children to ensure that, on average, each woman is replaced by a daughter who survives to the age of procreation, the report said.

Another 40 percent lives in intermediate-fertility countries where each woman was having, on average, between 1 and 1.5 daughters, and the remaining 18 percent lives in high-fertility countries where the average woman has more than 1.5 daughters.

The population of the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) is still the fastest growing in the world, at 2.3 percent per year, the Population Division said.

While the population of developing countries as a whole is projected to rise from 5.6 billion in 2009 to 7.9 billion in 2050, the population of more developed regions is expected to increase from 1.23 billion to 1.28 billion people.

The more developed countries figure would have declined to 1.15 billion were it not for the projected net migration from developing to developed countries, which is expected to average 2. 4 million persons annually from 2009 to 2050.

Projected trends are contingent on fertility declines in developing countries. Without further reductions of fertility, the world population could increase by nearly twice as much as currently expected, the Population Division's report said.

"It is going to be extremely important to continue funding and increasing the funding that has gone down for family planning because, if not, our projections on declining fertility are unlikely to be met," Zlotnik said.

The projected population trends also depend on achieving a major increase in the proportion of AIDS patients who get anti- retroviral therapy to treat the disease and on the success of efforts to control the further spread of HIV.

Life expectancy was expected to rise across all categories of countries, particularly as better treatment for HIV/AIDS cuts early deaths in many sub-Saharan African countries. Global life expectancy was projected to increase from 68 years to 81 by the years 2095 to 2100.

Among other findings, Zlotnik said, most developing countries were unlikely to meet the goal of reducing mortality of those under 5-years old by two-thirds by 2015, one of eight globally agreed targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Source: Xinhua
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