A Century's Forecast: How the Global Population Is Likely to Change

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.21 - 2024 1:43 PM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
How will the population of the Earth change by the end of the century? Scientists share their forecast.

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By the end of the century, birth rates worldwide will be so low that most countries will not be able to support their existing population. At the same time, the leaders in terms of birth rate will be the poorest countries.

This forecast comes from a study featured in the scientific journal The Lancet, as reported by Reuters.

According to American researchers, by the year 2050, 155 out of 204 countries and territories (76% of all) will have a birth rate below what is needed to reproduce the population. By 2100, this indicator will increase to 198 - 97%.

Scientists came to these conclusions by analyzing surveys, censuses, and other data spanning from 1950 to 2021, conducted as part of the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors study. The authors noted that predictions were limited by quantity and quality of past data, especially for the 2020 to 2021 COVID-19 pandemic period.

The study suggests that by the end of the century, over three-quarters of all births will occur countries with low and below-average income levels. More than half of them are sub-Saharan African countries.

In 1950, the average number of births per woman was about 5. While in 2021, it dropped to 2.2. At the same time, by 2021, 110 countries (54%) already had indicators that do not ensure reproduction of the population - lower than 2.1 children per woman

Notably, South Korea and Serbia have seen birth rates drop to less than 1.1 children per woman, marking an alarming trend.

The decline in births in wealthier nations correlates with increased educational and career opportunities for women. At the same time, in poorer countries, as the researchers note, it is necessary to improve access to education and contraceptives.

"As the population of almost every country shrinks, reliance on open immigration will become necessary to sustain economic growth," commented Natalia Bhattacharjee, one of the report's co-authors.

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