The UN’s Latest Population Forecasts In Focus
Of note, the UN sees the world population rising to 10.1bn in 2100, with Africa’s population more than tripling to 3.6bn over the next 89 years. Nigeria’s population alone is projected to rise from 162mn now to 730mn (!) by the end of the century. Even a small country like Malawi, with 15mn, will swell to 129mn. Naturally, this raises questions about whether all these ‘extra’ people in the world can be fed and sustained on the world’s natural resources.
Regarding the BRIC countries, all four will be seeing population decline by 2100. Russia’s population has been declining for some years already, and will shrink to 111mn by century’s end, although this is still far more people than many doomsayers have predicted. The UN sees China’s population peaking at 1.395bn in 2025, then sliding to 941mn by 2100. Brazil’s population will peak at 224mn in 2040, but India’s will not reach a zenith until 2060, when it will have 1.718bn people.
Other major emerging markets, such as Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Vietnam will see populations peak in the middle of this century, before receding. South Africa’s population is forecast to peak in 2065.
Interestingly, several developed states will see their populations continue to rise all the way to 2100. These include France (80mn), the UK (76mn), Canada (48mn), and the United States (478mn).
While demographic projections are useful, I should mention that demography is not necessarily destiny. Rising populations, which are now seen as a bonus for economic growth, can also be a curse. At the same time, countries with declining populations are not necessarily doomed to insignificance.
Furthermore, there is no telling how technologies will affect lifespan and quality of ‘old age’ living in the late 21st century. We also cannot predict how climate change (or other factors for that matter) will affect migration patterns. Therefore, the economic and geopolitical implications of the UN’s forecasts are far more complicated than the numbers suggest.