Soon there will be 8 billion people in the world. There are estimates that from here the number has only decreased

Later this year – it could happen every day actually – the world’s population is expected to cross the line and reach 8 billion people. The UN recently set a date for this – November 15, but we have no way of really knowing exactly when this will happen.

Since the 1960s, when the number of people in the world first reached 3 billion, it has taken a little more than a decade each time to cross the threshold to the next billion, and so it may seem natural to us to assume that 9 billion people and then 10 billion people are figures that are actually around the corner. This is exactly what the latest population projections from the United Nations and the US Census Bureau have calculated.

But when we cross the line to 8 billion people, it is worth thinking that the world may not reach 10 billion or even 9 billion people, and that the demographic problems in the world will not stem from mass culture but rather from shrinking countries, aging populations and dwindling workforces.

We’re not talking about a meteor strike, alien invasion, or other apocalyptic scenario (although, of course, those could also result) but direct demographic projections that conclude that birth rates are declining so rapidly worldwide that we may reach a peak human population in less than a generation.

A smaller population peak and closer in time

The UN forecasts are the most well-known. But there is an alternative forecast that is getting more and more attention in recent years, led by demographer Wolfgang Lutz, of the Wittgenstein Institute for Demography and Global Human Capital at the University of Vienna, of which Lutz is the founding director.

The projections there predict a smaller population peak closer in time. A look at the assumptions underlying Lutz’s predictions shows that they are not unreasonable.

“There are two big questions,” said Lutz, which determine whether his or the UN’s forecasts are closer to accuracy. will recover.”

The UN’s population projections are based on historical trends for each country and estimates of what population figures were in countries that were in similar conditions in the past.

Lyman Stone, director of research at the population consulting firm Demographic Intelligence, compares this methodology to technical analysis of stocks, a method of testing historical patterns and predicting how likely they are to repeat themselves.

The forecasts of the Wittgenstein Institute, on the other hand, examine not only historical patterns but try to ask why birth rates rise and fall. A big factor, not officially included in the UN models, is education levels. At the simplest level, asPeople, especially women, get better opportunities to learn and be educated, so they start familiesTens more. (UN demographer Vladimira Kantorova said the UN approach implicitly considers development, urbanization, women’s education and contraceptive use because it relies on historical data from countries that have undergone such changes.)

UN forecasts predict that Africa’s population will grow from 1.3 billion people today to 3.9 billion people by the end of the century.

Once you consider the issue of education, the Wittgenstein Institute predicts that the population of Africa will increase to 2.9 billion people during this period. According to another scenario of the Wittgenstein Institute, known as the “rapid development” scenario, the population of Africa will reach only 1.7 billion people by the end of the 21st century.

The phrase “rapid development” reveals a lot: it is not a gloomy forecast and decline, but simply a situation in which health and education are improving, a world with better living conditions for humans, lower mortality and moderate levels of immigration.

That optimism may be deserved, said Danny Dorling, a geography lecturer at the University of Oxford. He wrote a series of articles and books that questioned whether the UN’s predictions were likely to come true. His newest prediction is written in an optimistic tone: “Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration – And Why It’s Good for the Earth, the Economy and Our Lives.”

“In general, health is improving rapidly, education provision will improve dramatically, the quality of housing is increasing,” he said.

The UN predicts that fertility rates will climb between 2022 and 2030 in 50 countries

The other area where the UN forecasts differ from its own is the question of fertility recovery.

The UN predicts that fertility rates will climb between 2022 and 2030 in 50 countries (as well as 14 territories and protectorates). The largest of them all is China, where the UN predicts that fertility rates will climb slowly for most of this century.

The UN’s Kantorova said that predictions of a resurgence in fertility are based on trends from countries that have experienced similar patterns.

Is this an overly optimistic forecast? China is currently struggling to reverse the results of the one-child policy it has implemented for so many years.

In contrast, Lutz proposed the “low-fertility trap hypothesis,” according to which countries where fertility falls below 1.5 children per woman have a very difficult time recovering from it, perhaps because one-child families become the accepted and desired norm for people who grew up that way. How likely is it that there will be a consistent return in China, while in nearby Japan the fertility rate was only 1.3 or 1.4 children for an entire generation, or South Korea, which recently dropped to a figure of only 0.8?

Even two years of a global epidemic did not bring a baby boom, notes Lutz, despite “all the articles and speculation about what happens when people have to stay at home.” In fact, the effect was “quite the opposite, a fairly significant drop because people started to worry. When you’re worried about the future you don’t have children, you wait,” he said.

(Interesting discussions are also taking place on the question of how big the USA will be in the future, but the USA is not expected to be a factor with a significant influence in global forecasts).

Put it all together and the UN predicts that the world’s population will pass the 10 billion mark in the late 2050s; according to the Wittgenstein Institute’s baseline scenario it will peak at 9.67 billion in 2070, after which there will be a slow decline. According to Wittgenstein’s rapid development scenario, the peak The world population will reach 8.7 billion people in 2050.

“All of these organizations are making different but reasonable choices about projections,” Stone said. “I would be happy to say that there is a simple way to reconcile the approaches. The reality is that reasonable assumptions can lead to very different places.”

Policy makers would do well to be modest in their assumption of infinite growth in the human population. This is just one of the possibilities for the future that the world needs to prepare for.

“The total population, in the end, is an insignificant number,” Lutz said. “It depends on what these people will be able to do, what their skills will be and whether they will have enough food.”

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