Humanity will not avoid an increase of 2 billion in the next thirty years, due to demographic inertia that no one can prevent, scientists say
The world population will continue to grow, but at an ever slower rate. In particular, its growth rate that reached its maximum (over 2% per year) sixty years ago was halved (0.9%) in 2022 and will continue to decline until its possible stabilization at the end of our century, according to always with the “intermediate” scenario of the United Nations projections. The acceleration of its increase in the last two centuries is due to the successive entry of different regions into the demographic transition, the highest rates being recorded at a time when fertility is still high in all the countries of the “South” (5 to 7 children per woman on average term), while mortality has already started to decrease.
These are data included in the 44th issue of the “DemoNews” series on “The population of the planet and China in the horizon of 2050”, a digital bulletin of the Demographic and Social Analysis Laboratory (EDKA) of the Univ. Thessalia, in which the authors (prof. Byron Kotzamanis and the post-doc George Kontogiannis), present and comment on the results of recent (2022) United Nations projections. The slowdown in world population growth rates, they say, is because fertility began to decline very rapidly in many countries in Asia and Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, and then, at a slower rate, in Africa. However, this did not prevent rapid population growth, due to the inertia of demographic phenomena (the younger a population is, even if couples have fewer and fewer children, the total number of births remains high). The course of Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, differs significantly in recent decades from the corresponding courses of Asia and Latin America, as the decline in fertility in a large part of this continent was – and remains – relatively slow, while the continent it still has a very young population (median age today is 17.6 years in sub-Saharan Africa and 18.6 years as a whole in Africa, compared to 41.7 years in Europe). And the population of sub-Saharan Africa could even double by the end of the century (from 1.1 billion today to 2.1 billion in 2050 and to 3.4 billion in 2100 with the result that while today, in Africa 1 in 6 inhabitants of the planet, the corresponding ratio to rise in 2050 to 1 in 4 (and probably more than 1 in 3 in 2100. In contrast to Africa, the population of Europe will not only not increase, but on the contrary decrease in the following decades (from 746 million in 2021 to 704 million in 2050), with the result that, while in 1950 the population of the “old continent” constituted 22% of the world’s population, today it constitutes only 9.5%, and just 7.3% in 2050 (and that of Greece from 1.41% of the European population in 2021, to 1.3% in 2050).
As for China, its population increased from 539 million in 1950 to 1.426 billion in 2021 multiplying by 2.6 times, when the world population in the same period multiplied by 3.2. China, which was – and remains – the most populous country on earth (22 out of 100 inhabitants of the planet in 1950 and 18 out of 100 today live there), will very soon cede primacy to India as its population will continue to decrease. At the same time, this country, due to the rapid decline in mortality after 1965 and fertility after 1969-1970, already has – and will continue to have – an extremely rapid increase in the number of people aged 65 and over which will soon pose a host of problems. , as its preparation time for dealing with demographic aging, in contrast to that which European countries had – and still have – at their disposal is limited.
Speaking to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, the professor at the University of Thessaly Byron Kotzamanis, states that “the size of the world’s population is largely known as demographic projections are relatively safe for the next thirty years. These projections are quite realistic since most of the people who will live then have already been born, we know the number of people living today and we can estimate without much error the number of people who will die, while the number of births that will be added it can also be appreciated as the women who will give birth to their children in the next 25-30 years have already given birth. The population of our planet is unevenly distributed today, and will remain so, with the only difference being the speed with which the center of gravity is shifting to Africa. Humanity will not avoid an increase of 2 billion in the next thirty years, due to demographic inertia that no one can prevent. But the real question, on which the long-term survival of the human race depends, is not so much the number as the way of life. Even today when we are 8 billion, if everyone adopted the model (see consumption) of the most developed countries, the available resources would be exhausted in a few decades and life on Earth would become unsustainable (I will only mention that the 6.7 out of 8 billion of the world’s population “burden” the planet in 2022 less than the 1.3 billion inhabitants of rich countries). We must therefore, from now on, think in which ways we can, on the one hand, improve the standard of living of the largest part of the Earth’s population while simultaneously limiting any negative effects on the environment, and on the other hand, maintain the well-being of the smaller part of it by reducing its ecological footprint” .
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