Population Matters



Some key population data is displayed in the graphs below.

World population projections

Probabilistic projections for total world population. Source: UN World Population Prospects 2015
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015).
World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision.

The United Nations issues projections for future population every two years. Because many factors affect population numbers, they produce a range of estimates, with the central red line representing the median figure. In 2015, it calculated the following high, low and median figures (in bold) for the middle and end of the century:

2015 global population projections

So far, each time the UN has revised its figures, the estimates are for higher numbers than the previous projections.

UK population projections

Source: Office for National Statistics
Estimated and projected population of the UK, mid-1981 to mid-2039. Source: ONS

The Office for National Statistics produces projections for UK population. Again, a large number of variables affect the figures so a range of calculations are provided. The most recent figures (March 2017) are that the UK has a population of 65.1 million, which is expected to reach 70 million by 2026 and more than 77 million by 2050.

[Notes to graph: HP = High fertility, high life expectancy, high migration; YP = High fertility, low life expectancy, high migration; HM = High migration; HF = High fertility; HL = High life expectancy; P = Principal projection; LL = Low life expectancy; LF = Low fertility; LM = Low migration; OP = Low fertility, high life expectancy, low migration; LP = Low fertility, low life expectancy, low migration]

Family size trend in England and Wales

Source: Office for National Statistics
Estimated family size distribution in England and Wales. Source: ONS
The traditional two-child family remains the most common family type in England and Wales, with 37 per cent of women born in 1967 having two children. Childlessness is the second most common family size for the 1967 cohort. This is a recent development first encountered among the 1964 cohort, whereas for those born between the late 1930s and early 1960s, three children was the second most common family size. A woman born in 1940 was more likely to have one, three, or ‘four or more’ children than not to have any. Only one in ten women born in 1967 had four or more children, compared with nearly one in five in the 1940 cohort.

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