Where Is Population Growth Actually Heading?

Demographics matter. An aging society, fewer children, less workers, immigration, to name a few, are likely to shape our future in ways we cannot predict. There is much uncertainty, exemplified by mixed messages regarding the global population. Some estimates have us reaching 11 billion people by the year 2100 – with most of that growth coming from Africa and some countries in Asia. Studies have now emerged with significantly less growth. A recent article describes one such study.

A new model has predicted that Earth’s population is likely to decrease in all scenarios across the next century and will peak nowhere near the 11 billion previously forecast.

Ben Turner – World’s population could plummet to 6 billion by the end of the century, study suggests

A study by the Club of Rome predicts that if current trends continue, world population will peak at 8.6 billion in the middle of the century and then decline by 2 billion by the end of the century. Emerging scenarios in the next two decades are likely to alter any population projections, making it near impossible to place faith in these estimates. Expanding education – specifically for women – has played a role in decreasing fertility rates historically. A reimagining of education could therefore have a considerable impact on fertility, especially in low-income countries. An aging society is detrimental if it exacerbates a fall in working age population. But what if we live much longer, healthier lives? Do we necessarily leave the workforce? If we do live much longer, we likely impact those population projections. What about eliminating fatalities via car accidents as we roll out autonomous driving. The potential is there to significantly reduce the death toll associated chronic disease. Too many children die needlessly today, what if we addressed the underlying reasons? With the impact cancer and heart disease have on mortality, progress here is very impactful. Longevity in recent years has declined in some countries due to deaths of despair. What if brain science leads us towards solutions to these challenges?

On the other side of this conversation are drivers of lower population growth. Fear of a third world war has entered the dialog. What are the possible impacts of geopolitical tensions? Extreme events like pandemics and weather-related tragedies are ramping and not expected to diminish. Climate change is a wildcard that may indeed have considerable impact. All this to say that population growth will be influenced by several unknowns – just like most scenarios today. Watch the video below to see one projection of population growth – both historically and into the future. You can find other posts related to population here.

The historical impact of generational change is also something to consider. This is captured extremely well in a book titled The Fourth Turning.

34 thoughts on “Where Is Population Growth Actually Heading?

  1. You are missing the reality that Mother Nature is going to reduce the human population, especially in those countries like Africa and Islamic countries, where population has been growing strongly.
    Just as She destroyed the dinosaurs, Mother Nature will destroy humans!
    Climate Change will continue, regardless of the West reducing carbon emissions. Volcanoes and earthquakes will increase. And watch out for asteroids coming to Earth!


    • If only we could count on an asteroid. Unfortunately that’s a bit random.
      What will happen/is happening is the changing climate will force migration to cooler climes, ie Northern Europe. The shortage of fresh water and the threat to the indigenous standard of living will lead to conflict.
      Regimes like China will see the falling birth rate as a problem (which it isn’t) and issue incentives to have more children. The ensuing lack of resources will lead to annexation of other countries. This will be a perceived threat to western governments leading to more conflict.

      But it doesn’t have to be this way. If the whole world can take seriously the climate threat.
      We need to get away from the attitude that ‘growth is good’. You can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. ….

      …go luck with that

      Just for reference; the optimum sustainable human population for this planet is in the region of 3.5 billion. Beyond that, the planet is stressed. Now at nearly 3 times that, the planet is screaming in agony.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Falling birth rate “isn’t a problem” from one perspective, perhaps a short-sighted one. Aging popukations need younger workers to care for aged elders, particularly with advances in medical technologies increasing life expectancies. Such lifespan increases usually involve pharmaceutical/mechanical assistance, which is not cost-free to the patient, insurance company, government, or family and represents a drain on GDP. So, one worker (child) providing health support for two parents vs four children doing so points out where more children can help.

        In considering more children, the cost of rearing children can arise. But I suspect that annual cost is lower averaged over, say, 20 years. ( Parenting costs decline with the child’s age, while elder-care costs increase with age, so the comparison is fraught.)


      • Or, maybe we are part of an infinite universe and growth/evolution naturally thrives towards the infinite. Not saying the road is not bumpy, as we know of 5 mass extinction events on Earth. But, if our fight has always been, for billions of years in our genetic lineage, against entropy, then limiting our growth may very well spell our doom.

        The more we are and the more global human brain power there is as a species, to innovate and face crisis.

        The thing is that even without human interference, the Earth is warming as part of its natural cycles and that is something we will have to adapt to one way or another. Limiting our own potential to become and believing that more than half of the world population should not be there, could very well be our end of instead of some kind of salvation.

        Part of growth is to learn from mistakes and mature through experience. If you want to stop to grow, then you are in fact truly walking towards your end.


      • Agreed that human population will be more successful under 3.5B. What some people fail to acknowledge is that more very old people doesn’t mean they want to be super old. Being kept alive through expensive medical procedures begins to look like torture. People over, say, 80 will likely decide to exit on their own terms. I plan to. If I can’t write or paint or enjoy music I don’t want to be here and you can’t make me.


      • It was the state/province of Bengal in India. Still Bengals speaking Bengali. If sea levels continue to rise, in 50 years they’ll be speaking “glug, glug”.


      • Yesterday’s third world are tomorrow’s first world..

        It’s inevitable that, change is unstoppable and at some point thr rest of the world will catch up in tech and surpass the west.

        The idea is if we can all keep the peace while this happens


    • Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of India. Pakistan was carved out in 1947 and Bangladesh came into existence in 1971


  2. That.s scary. Even with the present peak we are no where near occupying this vast universe. There is no country that has occupied even a 10th of it s land.


  3. Your missing the Ottoman empire in that list of populations for nations in the 1800’s
    Bangladesh and Indonesia weren’t countries back then.


  4. There is an overpopulation of humans on Earth, without a doubt. It indicates the big picture in terms of an increasing human population degrading the natural environment, leading to extinction of many different species of animals, deforestation and climate change. As other people have pointed out, there are not enough resources to sustain a huge population. Ecosystems need many different plants and animals in it to flourish. If many more plants and animals dissappear, humans are going to end up threatening their own existance.


  5. Invest in Nigeria. Population growth means that’s where the power will reside. There and with the biggest strongest military on the planet (hint, not Nigerians Army)


    • Don’t trust Nigeria, they are totally corrupt and the scam there is rampant & out of control. And l would say theres more to go with that..


  6. Make a synthetic opioid take home euthanasia available at every pharmacy and 45-65 percent of the planet would say thanks and get to leave. One train full of fentynal by the 10,000 gain vat without xyaxaline and everyone who doesn’t want to be here gets to leave and most of the world’s problems are over

    Supply a drink in a bottle with a lock and key, with a micro serial number so a cororonor could scan over the body and verify who bought the drink

    The world would only be full of people that actually want to be here, you’d more than double available resources to the planet, and everyone would have 2 houses, 2 cars, 2 cows, ice cream on top and oil to last the planet. Those who rule the world want to live forever, so they think everyone else does too. We’re all such here because too many people are blocking the exits.

    Make euthanasia not fungus or virsuses


  7. Most of the people leaving comments are right on the money. Others are in outer space.
    If we have to many people on earth, we’re will the food and water come from. The days of having more babies is over. It was NESSARY at one time, now we have to plan better.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The main problem with human over population is : this planet will run out of resources to sustain us.
    Which will lead to human extinction anyway in the future. May it through War, or deadly viruses, or deseases
    Then Earth, and other species will thrive again and Earth will recover before the sun gets so big, to use this planet as fuel


  9. An ageing population doesn’t mean a worthless population. Automation over the years have drastically reduced the requirement of manual labour where young people actually are superior to the elderly. If it is set aside a mature and experienced workforce can do much better for any economy. I think no professional or intellectual should be made to retire before the age of 75 he/she has a serious health problem and wants to step down on his/her own.
    One has to visit a city of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to feel what overpopulation means.


  10. World tend about Economy, Economy….
    Nations tend about Development, Development……
    Human tend about Money Money…..

    Dispairity of Economy, Developement and Money (GDM) throught World. Who leads the world? Really!, the giant of the GDM?
    Who is the policy maker of the World?

    The UN strugling to resolve all, by guiding, funding and directing to manage HR thro’ UNFPA, WHO etc…

    We all do know about the decline of Birth Rate but not about the TFR.

    The TFR is a crucial indicator that do how a nation or region making policy

    G7 – TFR < 2.1- More employment but struggling for HR.
    Developing Nations – Around TFR 2.1 – Currently having potencial but stabilization of HR?
    Poor Nations – TFR very High. – More HR but less employment and struggling of economy from individual/family to Nation.

    The Nation which forecast and make policies for cohart of 35 years to maintain TFR around 2.1 will balance the economy and HR.

    Japan, USA immigration policy decisions are typical examples of impact of TFR. The factor behind the BREXIT issue of EU, following by France, German is TFR.

    Thank You.


  11. Reproduction is a natural process..people to people and country to country the pattern of reproduction differ. .in the third world countries people don’t care about the poverty and consequences of producing more and more babies…some culture and faith too play a role in increasing population growth… Muslim population will increase dramatically in the coming decades…They strongly believe that it is God who provides provisions and we human beings should listen and obey what God says ..RC people too believe like this ..yet; our politicians who do all dirty politics with geopolitical and greedy policies to reduce population growth ..Does the world lack natural resources to feed its people …if only humanity utilize the lands in Africa that would be enough to feed the entire world population..but never some countries will do this due to their geopolitical and economic interests.. Humanity will commit a collective suicide with its wrong policies and AI will destroy the humanity soon.. Moreover the weapons of mass destruction will do more and more harm .


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