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The Population Of The World Is Now 8 Billion. See What will Happen Now.


The world population recently reached 8 billion, and that's fine.

"Happy eighth billionth day!

In a press conference on Tuesday, Natalia Kanem, the director of the UN Population Fund, made this statement. She was familiar with the time—November. 15—to be noteworthy: The UN noted that day as the day the world's population surpassed 8 billion, with the most recent billion being added in 2010.

Kanem was speaking at the International Conference on Family Planning in Pattaya, Thailand, and one might initially assume that the continued growth of the world's population indicates that family planning has failed. It's also tempting to believe that any increase in population is a major cause for concern in a time when everything is in short supply, including housing, energy, semiconductors, and baby food.

But relying solely on that headline figure would mean omitting both the big picture and the subtler points. Growth is really slowing down; this year, the global population increased by just 0.8%, compared to the 1960s when it increased at a rate of three times that every year. The world population will reach its peak at the current rate, at 10.4 billion people, sometime between 2080 and 2100, before it begins to fall.

Overall, the fertility rate—the typical woman's expected number of children—is currently 2.3, down from 3.3 in 1990 and very near to 2.1, the so-called "replacement rate," at which the population will stabilize, i.e., stop increasing or decreasing. And as Kanem noted, better health policies, not ineffective family planning, are what will give the human race the billions it will gain this century. Both of these developments—people living longer and children dying less frequently in infancy—are undeniably positive.

Wherever populations are increasing and decreasing, there may be cause for concern, according to Manoj Pradhan, the founder of the London-based research firm Talking Head Macroeconomics. The big demographic dividends—the surges in working-age populations—will come in nations that aren't yet driving the global economy, according to Pradhan, co-author of the book "The Great Demographic Reversal." The demographic drag, however, is manifesting itself in "the economic superstars, if you will," according to Pradhan. According to him, this disparity will probably have a significant impact on how our economies and societies run over the next one hundred years.

Which nations are responsible for the world's population growth?

Around 9.8 billion people will inhabit the planet by 2050. In just eight nations—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania—more than half of the 1.8 billion people who will be added between now and then will reside.

Between 2022 and 2062, Africa will actually account for half of the global population growth. According to UN statistics, fertility rates are still high in many African nations, averaging 4.5 children per woman. Kanem described the enormous conundrum that is about to engulf these countries in Pattaya. Although they are among those that have contributed the least to global carbon emissions over the centuries, hot, low-income countries are those that suffer the most when extreme climate events occur. They must also expand their economies in order to maximize the demographic dividend.

The cost of the global demographic change will fall on wealthy nations.

The type of funding outlined in the Paris Agreement is one way to assist low-income nations in resolving the climate-population dilemma. According to one analysis, the US and other major carbon polluters should be charged $4.3 trillion to support efforts to transition the world's energy supply and address climate change.

However, these developed nations will also have to pay for changes in their own demographics. The number of people who are working-age—or, in other words, taxable populations—will decline, whereas the elderly will increase in number. This is evident everywhere, Pradhan said. When public pensions were first established, roughly 40 years ago, life expectancy was around 60. Today, it is somewhere around 76, even in a relatively young economy like Brazil.

Quartz will break down three significant economic effects of the impending population shifts over the course of the next three days. The first is the enduring nature of inflation and our reluctant acceptance of it. The second is the relocation of labor and manufacturing. The inevitable cross-border migration is the third. The management of wealthy nations' transition from young to aging societies—as well as the management of poorer nations' burgeoning populations—will affect almost every aspect of the global economy in the decades to come.

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