Explained | Where is the population growth?

Which countries are driving the increase? Where are India and China located? What will be its impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Which countries are driving the increase? Where are India and China located? What will be its impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The story so far: Coinciding with World Population Day on July 11, the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has released the World Population Prospects 2022, an estimate of likely world population trends. The world’s population, which stood at nearly 7.9 billion in 2021, is expected to reach 8 billion on November 15, 2022, the report points out, with India expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.

What are the highlights of the report?

Projections suggest that the world population could reach around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of around 10.4 billion in 2100. The population is expected to remain at this level until 2100. Overall, life expectancy has reached 72.8 years. years in 2019, an increase of almost 9 years since 1990. Further reductions in mortality are expected to translate to an average longevity of around 77.2 years worldwide in 2050.

Life expectancy at birth for women exceeded that of men by 5.4 years globally, with life expectancies for women and men standing at 73.8 and 68.4 years respectively. In 2021, the average fertility – or the number of children born to a woman during her reproductive life – of the world’s population stood at 2.3 births per woman, after falling by around five births per woman. in 1950. World fertility is expected to decline further to 2.1 births per woman by 2050. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to continue growing until 2100 and contribute more than half of the increase in world population planned until 2050.

More than half of the projected increase in the world’s population until 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The 46 least developed countries (LDCs) are among the fastest growing in the world and several of them are expected to see their populations double between 2022 and 2050, which will put additional pressure on resources and pose challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the UN. .

Has COVID-19 had an impact on population growth?

Although external shocks take time to be reflected in population projections, the report unequivocally indicates that COVID-19 has had an impact. Global life expectancy fell to 71.0 years in 2021 from 72.8 in 2019, “mainly due” to the pandemic, the report noted. However, it had a different impact on the regions. In Central and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, life expectancy at birth fell by almost three years between 2019 and 2021, in contrast, the combined population of Australia and New Zealand gained 1.2 years due to lower mortality risks during the pandemic for certain causes of death.

What are the implications for India?

In 2021, the fifth edition of India’s National Family Health Survey reported that for the first time in the country’s history, the total fertility rate (TFR) reached 2.0 or less than the rate of 2.1 replacement. India’s population is expected to grow from 1.4 billion today to 1.67 billion in 2050 before stabilizing at 1.53 billion in 2100, according to official projections. The population is expected to peak at 1.7 billion in 2064, according to UN estimates.

This means that India’s population decline is in line with what is seen in developed countries and should result in improved per capita living standards and greater gender equity. Given that this TFR has been achieved in most states – the two major outlier states being India’s most populous states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – it shows that population decline can be achieved without coercive state policies.

The figures also mean that India will continue to have a large population of working-age people who will need to support a growing number of elderly people. The pressure to provide quality jobs that should also be climate-friendly – ​​or at the very least climate-neutral – will only grow. Women’s labor force participation in India has declined and falling fertility means many more will demand better jobs in a transitioning economy.

What about gender equity?

The Population Foundation of India, an organization that works to increase awareness of contraception, pointed out that the NFHS found that “unmet need for family planning methods” was highest among the lowest wealth quintile ( 11.4%) and the lowest among the highest wealth quintile. (8.6%) implying that the use of modern contraceptives increased with income. Thus, 66.3% of working women are more likely to use modern contraception compared to 53.4% ​​of women who are not. “These data add to the mountain of evidence that proves that development is the best contraceptive,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “Our focus now must be on reaching the unreached. We must do more for marginalized sections who may be disadvantaged on the basis of class, identity or geography.

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