Family Planning, Population Trends and Demography

Say What? More Than Half of This Century’s Population Growth Will Be in Just 10 Countries


The latest revision of the UN Population Division’s World Population Prospects, released this summer, projects that total population will reach 10.9 billion by the end of the century. That’s an additional 3.7+ billion people by 2100. Strikingly, nearly all of this growth will occur in developing countries. And 64 percent will be concentrated in just 10 countries.

Why is this? More importantly, what does this mean for the people who live in these countries?

Findings based on the UN medium-variant projection.  Source: UN Population Division. 2013. World Population Prospects: the 2012 Revision. New York: UN Population Division.
Findings based on the UN medium-variant projection.
Source: UN Population Division. 2013. World Population Prospects: the 2012 Revision. New York: UN Population Division.

In eight of these nations—namely Nigeria, Tanzania, DRC, Niger, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia—an important driver of population growth is persistently high fertility. The remaining two countries accounting for the world’s increase are those with already large populations and high net migration (like the United States).

We know that fertility is determined by many factors, including contraceptive use. Women in each of these countries bear more than four children on average, and more than a quarter of married women in Tanzania, Ethiopia, DRC, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia want to delay or limit childbearing but lack contraception.

There’s no cause for alarm. But having so much future population growth concentrated in so few countries does mean that we need to make smart investments today so that all women can have the right to contraception and future families can thrive. Family planning is a cost-effective investment, and meeting the need for contraception can reduce the number of maternal and newborn deaths, improve resilience to climate change impacts, and reduce poverty. In other words, meeting women’s needs presents a tremendous opportunity for improving development prospects everywhere.


3 Responses to “Say What? More Than Half of This Century’s Population Growth Will Be in Just 10 Countries”

  1. Grant

    How can India sustain this population growth? And why? I’ve heard the Gates Foundation is especially concerned with Nigeria’s explosive growth.

  2. Lee Miller

    Actually Ehrlich would have won the bet with simple Simon, if he had not agreed to a shorter time horizon. This tendency of demographers to pay little attention to or deny the correlates of growth that could cause a population crash are amazing. I really doubt that there will be 9 billion people here as they predict. We are already experiencing food shortages and energy price increases that will ultimately limit population at some point. Places like Nigeria and Pakistan cannot double and triple their populations when they are already grossly overpopulated despite such projections by demographers.

  3. Steven Earl Salmony

    The Ehrlich-Simon bet: Nature vs. Science Fiction

    The gambling that occurred between a scientist and an economist was idiotic. Even though the scientist has been proven to be correct in many respects, the scientist lost the bet. Perversions of science such as those by economists have served to distract, mislead and set back the science of human population dynamics and overpopulation for too long. Similarly, a widely shared and consensually validated, preter-natural demographic transition theory (DTT) promulgated by demographers served a common purpose. This theoretical perversion of science ignored, avoided and denied apparently unforeseen and admittedly unwelcome research related to the diminishing prospects for future human wellbeing and environmental health on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of a finite and frangible planet like Earth.

    On our watch many too many people listen to and act upon what the economists and demographers say because their pseudoscience is politically convenient, economically expedient, legally rationalized, socially accepted, religiously tolerated and culturally syntonic. Their fabrications and optical delusions have acquired the imprimatur of science at least in large part because too many people with scientific knowledge refuse to stand up and speak out in affirmation of the best available scientific evidence. Too many scientists will not speak truth, according to the lights and science they possess, to those with the great wealth and power.

    All that is actively and wrongheadedly being done by those who are few in number to massively extirpate global biodiversity, to recklessly dissipate finite resources, to relentlessly degrade the environment and to threaten the future of children everywhere is bad enough. The elective mutism perpetrated by so many knowledgeable people is even worse. The masters of the universe along with their sycophants and minions, all of whom act as if “greed is good” and money rules the world, are but a few; those with ‘feet of clay’ are many. Thank you to everyone here in PMC community and elsewhere with feet of clay for speaking out as if you are a million voices. By so doing we educate one another to what science discloses to all of us about the placement of the human species within the order of living things on Earth and the way the blessed world we inhabit works. Otherwise, the silence of so many and the greedmongering of so few kill the world.

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