Population growth higher, despite AIDS

Posted: 27 March 2001

Today, there are some 6.1 billion people in the world. By 2050, that figure is expected to grow to 9.3 billion, with nearly nine of every 10 people living in a developing country, and one out of six in India alone, according to a new UN publication, World Population Prospects: the 2000 Revision.

The latest UN population projection for 2050 is over 400 million higher than that made in 1998. Higher future fertility levels projected for the 16 developing countries whose fertility has not yet shown signs of a sustained decline are responsible for most of that difference. Except for Afhanistan and Yemen, all these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2000 Revision also estimates that several large countries, such as Bangladesh, India and Nigeria, have had somewhat higher fertility than earlier expected, which will account for an additional 130 million population by 2050.

Six countries (India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia) account for half of the annual 77 million extra people currently added each year.

The population of more developed regions is expected to change little during the next 50 years. By mid-century the populations of 39 industrialized countries are projected to be smaller than they are today, although childbearing in more developed regions as a whole is expected to rise from 1.5 children per woman in 2005-10 to over 1.9 at mid-century.

International migration is projected to remain high during the 21st century. The more developed regions are expected to continue being net receivers of international migrants, with an average gain of about 2 million per year over the next 50 years. Without migration, the population of these regions would start declining in 2003 rather than in 2025, and by 2050 it would be 126 million less than the 1.18 billion projected.

While the number of excess deaths due to AIDS is projected to be 15.5 million in the 45 most affected countries during the next five years, their populations are still expected to be significantly larger by mid century-because of their continuing high fertility rates. In Botswana , where HIV prevalence is 36 per cent, the population is projected to grow by 37 per cent by 2050. In Swaziland and Zimbabwe, where the HIV rate is above 25 per cent, growth is expected to be 148 and 86 per cent respectively.

Globally the number of people aged 60 and over will more than triple, increasing from 606 million today to nearly 2 billion by 2050. The increase in the numbers of the very old (over 80) will be even more marked, passing from 69 million in 2000 to 379 million in 2050, more than a five-fold increase.

Highlights of World Population Prospects: the 2000 Revision can be downloaded at the UN Population Information Network website.