Population Matters

Our numbers

Our numbers

Human numbers have grown fourfold in the last century, from 1.65 to seven-and-a-half billion. They are projected to grow by a further four billion by the end of the century, driven by increasing longevity, a continuing high birth rate in some countries and “population momentum”,  the effect of large nubers of people themselves having children.

Current trends

Crowd of people

The mid-range global projection is that the planet’s population will increase from seven billion to 10 billion by 2050. Broader estimates range from eight to 11 billion, depending on how effectively and quickly reproductive and development programmes are implemented in developing areas of the world to address the key drivers of population growth: the lack of reproductive health and contraception, lack of women’s rights and poverty. In some countries, migration also contributes significantly to the increase in population.

In the developed world, better reproductive health, contraception and women’s rights can also play an important role in reducing population growth.

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.

Read more about current population trends.

Birth rates

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

Women working

Improvements made to infrastructure, wide availability of modern contraceptives and the empowerment of women all greatly contribute to significantly lower and therefore much more sustainable rates of birth.

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

Read more about women’s rights.

Across the planet, societies face other population challenges, including ageing and migration.

Appropriate population goals must be set.

Read more about human population history.

Next: Ageing