According to a new report from the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, the total world population is expected to reach 8.6 billion by 2030, 9.8 billion by 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2100.
The report projects that though fertility levels in many areas of the world have been declining, the overall population will still continue to increase at a pace of about 83 million people per year. Between 2017 and 2050, the UN expects half of the world’s population growth will come from nine countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States of America, Uganda, and Indonesia. India’s population is expected to surpass China’s around 2024. Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the United States and become the third largest country in the world shortly before 2050.
In addition to this slower world population growth, declining fertility rates will lead to a significant increase in the aging population. Between 2017 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 or over is expected to more than double. By 2100, it will more than triple. This will present new issues and population dynamics in many regions. Africa, for example, which has the youngest age distribution of any region profiled in the report, will see its population age at a rapid rate—currently, 5% of Africa’s population is aged 60 or over; by 2050, it will be 9%; and by the end of the century it will leap to 20%.
Life expectancy is also increasing worldwide, which, combined with low fertility rates and a rapidly growing aging population, will put a significant strain on healthcare access and facilities worldwide. The UN predicts that differences in life expectancy across the most developed and least developed regions will significantly diminish by 2045-2050. Greater investments will need to be made towards healthcare infrastructure, diagnostics, research and development, and treatment, especially in terms of diseases related specifically to aging. Additionally, cancer rates are expected to rise as the world population rises. These factors also present a challenge to very low-income developing countries when it comes to eradicating poverty and inequality and ensuring quality health care for their populations.
To accommodate the specifics of this world population growth, governments worldwide will have to re-examine and adjust their healthcare programs and policies, as well as social protection systems such as welfare. In developed countries, healthcare is likely to experience significant growth in terms of investment and accessibility, and treatments for many aging-related diseases will become more advanced over the next few decades.
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