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UN Projects 9.6 Billion People by 2050

June 25, 2013

The latest population projections issued by the United Nation earlier this month suggest that world population is on a faster growth path than previously projected.  The UN now projects that world population will reach 7.2 billion next month, 9.6 billion by 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100.  That projection assumes, however, that access to family planning in developing countries will continue to expand and that fertility in the least developed countries will fall from 4.53 children per woman today to 2.87 by mid-century.

Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute, cautioned that the UN’s population projections are not written in stone.  “A decade ago, UN projections indicated that world population would reach 8.9 billion by 2050; now we are talking about 9.6 billion.  And even that projection assumes fertility rates continue to decline.”  While Walker indicated that fertility rates are almost certain to fall further, he pointed out that, “If fertility rates are even half-a-child higher than the UN medium variant project, world population could reach 10.9 billion by 2050 and 16.6 billion by the end of the century. If fertility rates were to remain constant, we could have 27.5 billion people on the planet by 2100.” 

Walker also warned that it will take more than expanded access to family planning services to slow projected population growth.  “Female empowerment is crucial.  Unless more is done to educate girls, eliminate child marriage practices, and promote gender equity, the UN’s latest forecast could be underestimating future population growth.”

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