There is much to celebrate in world population trends over the last 60 years, especially the average life expectancy, which leapt from about 48 years in the early 1950s to about 68 in the first decade of the new century. Infant deaths plunged from about 133 in 1,000 births in the 1950s to 46 per 1,000 in the period from 2005 to 2010. Immunization campaigns reduced the prevalence of childhood diseases worldwide.
The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in its World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision (published in May 2011), foresees a global population of 9.3 billion people in 2050, and more than 10 billion by the end of this century. Much of this increase is expected to come from high fertility countries, which comprise 39 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.
Asia will remain the most populous major area in the world in the 21st century, but Africa will gain ground as its population more than triples, increasing from 1 billion in 2011 to 3.6 billion in 2100. In 2011, 60 per cent of the world population lives in Asia and 15 per cent in Africa. But Africa’s population is growing about 2.3 per cent a year, a rate more than double that of Asia (1 percent). Asia’s population, which is currently 4.2 billion, is expected to peak around the middle of the century (5.2 billion in 2052) and to start a slow decline thereafter.
The populations of all other major areas combined (the Americas, Europe and Oceania) amount to 1.7 billion in 2011 and are projected to rise to nearly 2 billion by 2060 and then decline very slowly, remaining still near 2 billion by the turn of the century. Among the regions, the population of Europe is projected to peak around 2025 at 0.74 billion and decline thereafter.
Years when world population reached increments of 1 billion
1 billion . 1804
2 billion. 1927
3 billion. 1959
4 billion. 1974
5 billion. 1987
6 billion. 1999
7 billion. 2011
The attainment of a stable population is a sine qua non for accelerated economic growth and development. Governments that are serious about eradicating poverty should also be serious about providing the services, supplies, information that women, men and young people need to exercise their reproductive rights.
We all have a stake in the future of humanity. Every individual, every government, every business is more interconnected and interdependent than ever, so what each of us does now will matter to all of us long into the future. Together we can change and improve the world.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.