World Population Growth Slower Than Expected Due to AIDS-Related Deaths, Lower Fertility Rate, U.N. Report Says
The world's population will grow much more slowly over the next 300 years and will likely stabilize at nine billion by the year 2300 due to lower fertility rates and AIDS-related deaths, according to a report released on Monday by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs' Population Division, USA Today reports (Weise, USA Today, 12/9). The report, titled, "World Population 2300," says that fertility rates observed over the past century are "unsustainable" and predicts that developing nations, such as Congo, Afghanistan and Liberia, will either make efforts to decrease fertility rates or face population declines due to "civil unrest, hunger and disease," according to the Washington Post. During the 20th century, the worldwide total fertility rate declined from six children per woman in 1900 to approximately 2.7 children per woman in 2003, and the report predicts that worldwide total fertility rate will continue to fall over the next 300 years. The U.N. report considered three population scenarios -- high-growth, medium-growth and low-growth (Lynch, Washington Post, 12/9). A total fertility rate of 1.85 children per woman would produce a population of 2.3 billion in 2300 -- a four-billion-person decline from the current world population -- whereas a total fertility rate of 2.35 children per woman would result in a population of 36.4 billion in 300 years -- a population increase of more than 30 billion people (BBC News, 12/9). However, the "most likely" total fertility rate scenario -- two children per woman -- would result in a population of nine billion people in 2300, according to Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division. If current total fertility rates remained constant until 2300, the world population would reach 134 trillion, according to the report.
Biggest Increase in Developing Nations
"The bright news is that people are choosing small families, so we're likely to stabilize well below 10 billion, most likely at nine," Chamie said, adding, "But the next three billion are coming in the next 50 years, so we need to continue our work to help women and families have the number of children they want -- which they tell us is two" (USA Today, 12/9). The increase in world population will mostly occur in developing countries, according to the report, the Post reports. Developing countries will most likely experience a population increase from 4.9 billion in 2000 to 7.7 billion in the next 300 years (Washington Post, 12/9). Some developed countries, including Italy, Russia and Spain, will see "substantial declines" in population if current fertility rates remain constant, according to the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The U.S. population is expected to increase from 295 million today to 523 million by 2300. The report also predicts that there will be "far more older people" in 2300, with the median age increasing from 26 today to 50 in 300 years. Chamie said that the report is "groundbreaking" because it represents the first time that the United Nations has made population predictions for 300 years in the future (Lederer, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/9).