World population hits 8bn, but falling births mean slower growth ahead

Shrinking demographic dividend confronts nations with economic challenge

KATHMANDU: The world population has reached 8 billion people, the United Nations estimates, crossing a new milestone as growth drops to a postwar low.

The U.N. declared Tuesday the “Day of 8 Billion,” and the United Nations Population Fund called for “investing in people and making our societies inclusive, so that everyone is afforded a quality of life that allows them to thrive in our changing world.”

A shrinking demographic dividend makes it harder for high- and middle-income countries to sustain economic growth — a challenge already being felt in Japan, South Korea and other nations.

It took 12 years for the global population to rise from 7 billion in 2010 to 8 billion, and it is projected to take 15 years to reach 9 billion in 2037, U.N. forecasts show. Arriving at 10 billion is expected to take another 21 years, in an indication of how growth is slowing, even in middle-income countries.

Global population growth quickened from 1.73% in 1950 to a peak of 2.27% in 1963. It slowed after that, falling below 1.5% in the 1990s, then undershooting 1% in 2020.

The U.N. predicts population growth will sink below 0.5% in the 2040s and turn negative in 2086.

Underlying this decline is a global drop in fertility rates to near or below 2.1, considered the level needed to ensure a stable population.

For high-income countries, fertility rates average 1.56 this year. The average for middle-income countries dwindled to 2.16 this year from 2.49 in 2010, and is on track to dip below 2.1 in the early 2030s, according to U.N. estimates.

Several factors explain the downturn in birth rates, among them reduced infant mortality, rising education levels, the wider prevalence of family planning and a lack of social support for women balancing careers and childbirth .

Low-income countries still have high fertility rates averaging 4.54 in 2022. As fertility declines in middle-income economies, low-income African countries will drive global population growth.

Globally, people are living for an average of 71.7 years, up from 70.1 in 2010. The average lifespan was 72.8 years in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic shaved a year off the number. The U.N. now expects longevity to recover to 73.4 years in 2023.

The elderly account for 9.8% of the global population now, up from 7.7% in 2010. In high-income nations, the share of those 65 and older has reached 19.2%.

In middle-income countries, the elderly make up 8.7% of the population. But those nations account for 180 million of the 250 million elderly people added since 2010. They could face the same challenges that some high-income nations do now in caring for older people and maintaining the labor force.

South Korea and Russia had negative population growth in 2020, according to U.N. estimates. China’s population is forecast to start dropping this year, with India poised to take over as the world’s most populous nation next year.

Elsewhere in Asia, Thailand and Taiwan are expected to begin to see their populations shrink in 2029 and 2030, respectively. In Europe, populations are receding in Italy, Portugal and Eastern European nations. The race to secure workers through immigration is expected to heat up as population growth slows. NIKKEI ASIA

Fiscal Nepal |
Tuesday November 15, 2022, 01:06:24 PM |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *