African Population Expected To Increase by One Billion by 2050, Despite High HIV/AIDS Prevalence, Report Says
Africa's population could increase by more than one billion by 2050, despite the continent's high rate of HIV infection, according to the most recent "World Population Data Sheet" released yesterday by the Population Reference Bureau, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Armas, AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 7/23). The Middle Africa region is expected to have the fastest-growing population by 2050, increasing to 193% of its current size, and Western Africa's population will increase to 142% of its current size (Brun-Rovet, Financial Times, 7/22). Carl Haub, lead author of the report, said, "The governments don't have the wherewithal to fund the (family planning) programs. And any family planning program is interrupted by political strife" (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 7/23). However, the population of Southern Africa, where HIV/AIDS prevalence is highest, is expected to drop by 22%, "a decline that no one would have predicted in the recent past," the Times reports (Financial Times, 7/22). Haub said, "Africa is going to have a hard time taking on another one billion people." He asked, "How do you raise living standards, how do you educate, improve health care, and how do you battle AIDS at the same time?" The report said that African governments -- particularly in sub-Saharan countries -- will need to create "millions of jobs and improve health care facilities and schools" to deal with the population increase, the AP/Pioneer Press reports.
The report estimates that the overall global population will increase by 46% to nine billion people by 2050, the same projections offered by the United Nations and other groups (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 7/23). The total fertility rate for more developed countries in 2002 was 1.5 children per woman, compared with 3.1 children per woman in less developed countries, the Times reports. But "small differences" in fertility could lead to large differences in the world's total population, according to Haub. At an average total fertility rate of 2.6 children per woman, the world's population could surpass 10 billion by 2040. Haub said that fertility is determined by the developing countries' government policies and "regional traditions," according to the Times. For example, the population of Western Asia is expected to grow by 105%, while the population of Eastern Asia -- with 1.5 billion people -- is expected to increase by only 5%, a small increase that is largely attributable to China's low total fertility rate. In addition, India's total fertility rate has fallen consistently since the 1980s, but some of the country's 26 states are keeping the rate from falling below two children per woman, the Times reports. By comparison, the U.S. population is estimated to increase by 45% to 422 million by 2050; however, the U.S. total fertility rate dropped slightly from 2.1 children per woman in 2000 to two children per woman in 2001 and could decrease more if couples choose to have fewer children due to the economy, the Times reports (Financial Times, 7/22).