Populations in Africa, Asia to Outgrow Europe by 2050 Despite AIDS Toll, U.N. Study Says
The world's population is "projected to boom" by three billion people in the next half century, with Africa and Asia "dwarfing Europe" even with the "staggering toll of AIDS," according to a U.N. Population Division report released today, the AP/Nando Times reports. The world's current population of 6.1 billion is expected to grow to 9.3 billion by 2050, with nearly nine out of every 10 people living in a developing country and one out of six living in India. The number of people living in the world's 48 poorest nations -- mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa -- is expected to triple in the next 50 years, although AIDS is "projected to kill hundreds of millions more in Africa." Director of the U.N. Population Division Joseph Chamie said, "Some people think the world population problem is over. No. This is a long term issue and it's a very complex symphony -- you have some countries declining, you have other countries growing rapidly, and you have some staying the same. When you add those up, you have a very complex world." In the middle of the 20th century, Europe held 22% of the world's population, and Africa claimed 8%. However in 50 years, Africa will have three times as many people as Europe, even though AIDS is anticipated to "cut Africa's population growth" by 15% in 2050. Chamie said, "It's like a mortality avalanche from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite that, you see Africa going from about 800 million to 2 billion" by 2050. But without AIDS that figure would be 300 million higher, according to Chamie. Ben Wattenberg, a senior fellow at the "conservative-leaning" American Enterprise Institute, said that the report's estimates may be "potentially misleading," as the fertility rate, measured by the average number of children born to a woman during her childbearing years, is "dropping faster and more consistently worldwide" than the U.N. report suggests, making it "likely the 2050 population estimate is inflated" (Lee, AP/Nando Times, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.