United Nations: World’s population hits 8 billion people

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Nov. 15 (UPI) — The world population has reached 8 billion people, with India projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year, the United Nations said.

“This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement. “At the same time, it is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another.”

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While that number sounds large, the global population is actually growing at its slowest rate since 1950. The growth rate fell under 1% in 2020. The U.N. said that part of this is due to declining fertility rates.

“Today, two-thirds of the global population lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run for a population with low mortality,” the U.N. said.

“The populations of 61 countries or areas are projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2022 and 2050, owing to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration.”

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The latest projects suggest that the world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. More than half of that projected increase is expected to be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.

“The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional” Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said. “Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combatting hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.”

Projections show that much of the global population is expected to be on the older side. The share of the global population above 65 is expected to reach 16% in 2050, which will be more than twice the number of children under age 5.

“Further actions by governments aimed at reducing fertility would have little impact on the pace of population growth between now and mid-century, because of the youthful age structure of today’s global population,” John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said.