Human numbers have grown exponentially within the last hundred years, from fewer than two billion to over seven-and-a-half billion. These numbers are projected to grow by an additional four billion by the end of this century, driven by increasing life expectancies, a continuing high birth rate in some countries, as well as ‘population momentum’—referring to the effect of growing numbers of people themselves having children.
According to recent median UN global projections, our population is likely to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Broader estimates range from eight-and-a-half to 11 billion, depending on how quickly and effectively reproductive health and development programmes can be implemented in developing regions of the world. In order to ensure our population does not exceed these projections, it will therefore be necessary to address the key drivers of population growth: limited access to education and family planning, lack of women’s rights and poverty. In some cases, migration can also be viewed as a key contributor to population increase.
In developed countries, better reproductive health, contraception and women’s rights can also play an important role in helping to reduce population growth.
It is also the case that population growth rates worldwide are declining, yet absolute numbers are still on the rise: 1.5 million people are added to our population every week. Growth is also variable, in that populations are declining in some countries while in other countries populations continue to grow rapidly.
For more information about current population trends and projections, visit here.