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Population growth rates worldwide are declining but absolute numbers are still rising at one and a half million every week. Growth is also variable; populations are declining in some countries while continuing to grow rapidly in others.

Universal access to reproductive health services is one of the main factors that help to reduce birth rates and hence population growth.

Improved infrastructure, available contraceptives and women’s empowerment, including education and career opportunities, all contribute to lower and therefore more sustainable birth rates.

Economic development also helps to lift women out of the high birth rate poverty trap.

Across the planet, societies face other population challenges, including ageing, migration and the introduction of appropriate population goals.

Read more about Earth’s population problem.

Read more about the UK’s population problem.

Our Youthquake report examines more fully the links between population, fertility and the environment in the 21st century.