An avid reader, thinker and writer, the author shares his concerns about global population challenges.
What Is Population Growth?
Population growth can simply be defined as rise in the number of people in the world or a specific place under consideration. Annual global human population growth is estimated at 83 million or 1.1% per year. Worldwide population was 1 billion in 1800 and if this trend continues unhindered, it is estimated to reach 11.2 billion by 2100.
The world population has been growing due to various factors, like technological advancement, medical advancement, better sanitation arrangements, reduced mortality rates in addition to increased population growth levels.
However, the population growth has shown some demographic trends where many nations with high standards of living are experiencing a decline in population growth. However, conversely, in many less developed countries, significant population growth is still happening.
Population growth vis-a-vis increased consumption is a source of environmental concerns, like biodiversity loss and climate change due to resource utilization in the service of human development.
Global Population Trends
Decline in the Population
In some areas like European countries, the Americas, Oceana region, Russia, China and Japan, the population is declining, mainly due to low fertility rates, high death rates and varying levels of emigration. 55 countries are projected to experience a population reduction by 2050. China’s population, for example, is projected to decrease by 2.2% or 31.4 million.
Rise in the Population
However, in other cases, the population is on the rise, especially in African countries due to high fertility, socially preferable bigger family size, less use of modern contraceptives. and high levels of adolescent childbearing.
Alarmingly, nine countries will make up over half the projected total population increase by 2050: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the USA.
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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that the global population will peak in 2064 at 9.73 billion and decline to 8.89 billion in 2100.
Every two years, the United Nations makes projections for future population growth. Its latest medium projection—the most likely scenario—is a population of 9.7bn in 2050 and 10.9bn in 2100.
Some Important Terminologies
Defined as the average number of children born to women during their reproductive years. For the population in a given area to remain stable, an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 is needed, assuming no immigration or emigration occurs.
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Total Fertility Rate (TFR)
The single most important factor in population growth is TFR. When the TFR is greater than 2.1, the population in a given area will increase, and when it is less than 2.1, the population in a given area will eventually decrease.
The number of live births per 1,000 women in the total population—from fertility rates.
A larger population is likely to afflict the world with thirst, hunger, poor quality of life, drought-related conflicts, food shortages, urban squalor, migration and depletion of natural resources.
What Can We Do?
There are a few immediate steps we can take to slow down the population growth crisis.
Educate Women and Girls
Educated women are more aware of family planning and contraceptives. Studies have shown that educated women tend to have smaller families.
According to a study, African women with no education have, on average, 5.4 children; women who have completed secondary school have 2.7 and those who have a college education have 2.2.
Remove Barriers to Contraception
Currently, more than 200 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraception, mainly due to lack of access, concerns about side effects, and social pressure (often from male partners) not to use it. These women mostly live in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The UN projects that the world’s poorest countries will drive population growth over the next century. Better economic conditions ensure improved health access, which helps in lowering child mortality, and better economic opportunities lead to smaller family sizes as well.
International aid, fair trade and global economic development can help underdeveloped countries cope with economic challenges to ensure economic prosperity for their people in achieving desired population levels.
In the developed world, most of us have the power to choose the size of our families—although we may also face pressures of all kinds over the size of the families we choose to have.
Governmental policies related to fertility can take two forms: direct and indirect. Direct policies are those that offer tax breaks or childbearing incentives. The impact of a direct policy on fertility rates is usually immediate.
Indirect policies are those that target other societal goals but then inadvertently affect fertility rates. Indirect policies include shifts in childcare availability or regulations and laws regarding maternity and paternity leave.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.