A little more than 7.9 billion people will live on earth at Christmas 2021. By mid-2023 it will be eight billion, in 2050 it will be according to the UN population projection 2019 almost a billion more and nearly eleven billion people at the end of this century.
World population is growing by more than 82 million every year
The number of people on earth is currently growing by almost 82.4 million per year, which roughly corresponds to the number of inhabitants in Germany. Almost 226,000 people join them every day. Statistically speaking, the number of people on earth increases by 157 every minute, and 2.6 people are added every second.
Rapid population growth
Population trend since 1800
The explosion in the world’s population is a recent phenomenon. 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, lived according to estimates of the independent Population Reference Bureaus only around five million people on our planet. 2,000 years ago it was around 300 million. The increase only became rapid in the middle of the 18th century, after the first billion had been reached. There were two billion people in 1927, three billion 33 years later in 1960. It then only took 14 years to reach the fourth billion (1974). In 1987, only 13 years later, the fifth billion mark was exceeded, and in 1999 the sixth billion mark. The seven billionth person was born on October 31, 2011. According to calculations by the United Nations, we could break the eight billion mark in 2023.
Most of the world’s population lives in Asia
The largest part of the world population is at home in Asia at 59.3 percent. The rest of the world is distributed 17.5 percent in Africa, 9.5 percent in Europe, 8.4 percent in Latin America, 4.7 percent in North America and 0.5 percent in Australia / Oceania.
Covid-19 and the world population
It is not yet really possible to foresee how the corona pandemic will affect global population dynamics in the long term. According to a study by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) from 2021, however, the first consequences are already becoming apparent: The number of girls who had to drop out of school prematurely rose, especially in poorer countries. This could affect future fertility rates in these countries because women’s education levels have been shown to have an impact on their average number of children. However, the Covid-19 pandemic is not only making access to education more difficult in many places, but also to contraceptives. “Education campaigns and a better supply of modern contraceptives are now more important than ever – especially in countries with low and middle incomes. Covid-19 must not slow down the successes of recent years”, warns Jan Kreutzberg, Managing Director of the German Foundation for World Population (DSW) .
According to a UN study from 2021, the number of births in Europe and the USA has decreased – at least temporarily – due to Corona: The data from 19 European countries and the USA have shown “strong decreases in births” since October 2020 compared to the same months of the previous year. In the 15 EU countries examined alone, the number of babies fell by around three percent in October, by five percent in November and by eight percent in December 2020. “Most people would rather have fewer children in uncertain times – and the question is whether they have the means,” says Rachel Snow, population expert for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This requirement is certainly given in Europe. In Bangladesh, Malawi and Mexico, for example, the researchers identified the opposite trend.
Women have fewer children worldwide
Birth rate highest in Africa
The average number of children per woman is highest in Africa at 4.3 – but here too it was 6.7 in the mid-1960s. The fertility level is particularly high in the so-called sub-Saharan countries in Africa: The front runners are Niger (6.8 children per woman), Somalia (6.0) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.8). Outside Africa, the highest birth rates are in Afghanistan (4.3), the Solomon Islands (4.3) and East Timor (3.9) (2019 figures).
Lowest birth rate in South Korea
The countries in which the fewest children are born are South Korea (0.9 children per woman), Puerto Rico (1.0), Malta (1.0) and Singapore (1.1). In Europe, next to Malta, the fewest children are born in Ukraine, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina (all 1.2 children per woman) (figures from 2019).
Number of children depending on the level of education
According to studies, the average number of children per woman is primarily related to the level of education of the female population of reproductive age. “Education goes hand in hand with more chances and possibilities and allows a more self-determined life,” says the Global Population Development Report. In many countries women have little or no say in family planning. Having a large number of children is often still seen as a safeguard for old age. Many women marry very young and then become mothers. And many millions of women simply lack affordable contraceptives, there is a lack of education and good health care.
Global population growth is slowing
July 11th – World Population Day
On July 11, 1987, there were five billion people on earth. The United Nations took this as an opportunity to introduce International World Population Day. Not for joy, but to slow down further growth as much as possible.
Around 7.9 billion people will live on earth in 2021, around 2.9 billion more than in 1987. If this growth were to continue unchecked, it would be around twenty billion people by 2100. This will not happen, however: growth has been slowing down for several decades. According to the United Nations (UN), the world’s population is currently growing by around 1.09 percent every year. This means that growth has almost halved in the last 50 years. It peaked between 1965 and 1970 with an annual increase of 2.05 percent. It has been in decline since then.
Birth rates are falling, population is growing more slowly
That is why women have fewer children
There are several reasons why women have fewer children. The most important are the development of modern contraceptives, their better availability and increased educational opportunities.
Falling birth rates lead to weaker population growth. With around two children per woman, the so-called “maintenance rate” would be reached. If the birth rate falls below this value, as assumed, the world population will slowly decrease again.
In some countries the population is already shrinking
Many countries with high birth surpluses will continue to grow. But already in the period from 2015 to 2020, the population went according to the Report “Global Population Development” by the Federal Institute for Population Research returned in 30 out of 235 countries and territories. According to the United Nations, around 55 countries will experience a population decline of at least one percent between 2019 and 2050. The main reasons for this are continued low birth rates and emigration.
Population growth could also be even lower
The assumed birth rate is the essential factor if one wants to forecast the development of the world population. In July 2020 one appeared Study in the journal The Lancet, which comes to a much lower population growth in their forecasts: Instead of the almost eleven billion people expected by the United Nations in 2100, according to calculations by scientists around Christopher Murray from Washington University in Seattle, after a high in 2064 to 2100 “only” be 8.8 billion people – about one billion more than today. Murray and his colleagues hypothesize that if women have access to more education and contraception, they don’t want more than 1.5 children on average. However, even in many well-developed countries, the birth rate is still higher today.
More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities
When does the world population reach its maximum and shrink?
In many countries the population is already shrinking. The young age structure in many countries still ensures that births still exceed deaths worldwide. All studies agree that this birth surplus will continue for several decades, until at least the second half of the 21st century. In which year and with how many people the world population will reach its maximum is difficult to predict – the Covid-19 pandemic increases this uncertainty even more.
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