The World's Population Is Set To Decline For The First Time In Centuries | TOTUM
Ben Hayward December 7th
2021

Projections suggest the world’s human population is set to decline by the end of the century for the first time in around 700 years. 

Based on a new study that has been published in The Lancet, there are estimated to be 7.8 billion people in the world, with population expected to peak in 2064, at 9.7 billion, before dropping to 8.8 billion by 2100.

Lead author of the study and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Stein Emil Vollset spoke in detail about the 'groundbreaking' study, telling IFLScience: “The last time that global population declined was in the mid 14th century, due to the Black Plague.

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"If our forecast is correct, it will be the first time population decline is driven by fertility decline, as opposed to events such as a pandemic or famine.”

The report suggests that the drop will be fuelled by 23 countries who could see their populations shrink by over 50% by the end of the century. Some of those include Japan, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and South Korea, with even the world's most populated country, China forecast to see a fall from 1.4 billion people in 2017 to 732 million in 2100.

So, what will be driving this population decline? “There are two key factors: improvements in access to modern contraception and the education of girls and women,” Prof Vollset explains. 

“These factors drive the fertility rate - the average number of children a woman delivers over her lifetime which is the largest determinant of population.

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“The global total fertility rate is predicted to steadily decline, from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate (2.1 live births per woman) considered necessary to maintain population numbers.”

Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, said in a statement: “The 21st century will see a revolution in the story of our human civilisation.

“Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence.

“By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the US the dominant powers. This will truly be a new world, one we should be preparing for today.”

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Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, University College London (UCL), added: “Ultimately, if [the new] predictions are even half accurate, migration will become a necessity for all nations and not an option.

“The positive impacts of migration on health and economies are known globally.

“The choice that we face is whether we improve health and wealth by allowing planned population movement or if we end up with an underclass of imported labour and unstable societies.”

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