GNobody knows exactly, of course, but this Tuesday more than eight billion people are said to be living on earth. Experts have that United Nations calculated. However, since statistically two and a half children are born every second, around 150 every minute, 9,000 every hour and thus a good 216,000 every day, which roughly corresponds to the population of Mainz, the date is at best symbolic. With this November 15th, the population researchers want to draw particular attention to the fact that our planet is becoming increasingly crowded, especially in regions where many people already live.
Ever faster growth
the world population has been growing ever faster since it surpassed one billion in 1804. It took another 123 years to reach the two billion mark. Just 33 years later it was three billion, after only 14 years four billion. Since then, the increase has slowed somewhat. It is estimated that it will take 15 years to reach the nine billion mark, and ten billion will only be reached 21 years later, i.e. in 2058.
However, experts are still putting a big question mark on the date. By then, growth could slow down or accelerate again. According to the current status, however, a maximum of probably 10.4 billion people will be reached at some point at the end of this century, after which the numbers will decrease continuously.
Greater poverty, more children
The population figures in many industrialized countries are already stagnating or even falling slightly. Demographic change has a lot to do with socio-economic conditions. Accordingly, the increases are increasingly concentrated in countries with low and middle incomes, according to the Berlin Institute for Population and Development as of November 15th. Above all Pakistan, India and the Philippines in Asia as well as Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Congo in Africa. On average, sub-Saharan fertility rates are still twice the global average. The population there will also double to two billion in the next 25 years if the forecasts do not change.
In 2050 Nigeria will have four times as many people as today, which will make the country with 375 million inhabitants the fourth largest in the world in terms of population. China will be overtaken by India, that is already certain, which will then be in first place with almost 1.7 billion inhabitants. Only the United States holds its position, staying in third place with almost 130 million more people in the country – mostly through immigration.
In addition to China, Russia is also losing residents. In doing so, they are following the path that Germany and Japan have already trodden: in countries that are in an advanced demographic transition, the number of children has more than halved on average since 1960, to 2.3 children per woman. According to forecasts by the United Nations, this number will fall even further by 2050 – to 2.15 children.
level of education and growth
Why is that? Where fewer people die, fewer are born, writes the Berlin Institute for Population and Development and cites Rwanda as an example, where the living conditions of the residents have recently improved massively. The government not only introduced community-based health insurance in the country and covered 95 percent of its population within ten years. She has also trained 45,000 doctors and nurses who now work in remote villages to treat childhood illnesses, provide information on family planning, and look after the well-being of mothers and newborns. This reduced maternal and child mortality by around 30 percent. “And if fewer children die, experience has shown that fewer will be born after a while,” says the institute.
How many children a woman has depends heavily on her level of education. In Tanzania, women with a secondary school diploma have an average of only 3.6 children, with a primary school diploma it is already 5.1, and without a school diploma they give birth to as many as 6.4 children.
During the period in which the world population grew from seven to eight billion, a large number of children were born, mostly in the poorer regions. The proportion of people in employment there will therefore also rise sharply in the next 25 years. In countries with middle and higher incomes, on the other hand, the number of children and working people will continue to fall, while the proportion of pensioners will continue to grow.
In 2050, the population pyramids in some emerging countries will already be onion-shaped. Because in countries where the number of children has recently continued to fall, such as in Tunisia, Bangladesh and Brazil, the proportion of young people in work is already high. This can lead to conflicts when there are too few jobs, but it can also provide an additional boost to emerging economies. However, the aging of society remains a major issue. Wealthy countries in particular have to face this again and again.