World Population Set to Peak
at 9 Billion -Experts Reuters
Aug 1 2001
(Reuters) - The world's population will probably peak at about 9 billion around
2070 before it starts to decline, scientists predicted Wednesday.
Demographers at a think tank in Austria calculate that by the turn of the
century the number of people on the planet will have dropped down to 8.4 billion
They also predict the population will be older, with up to 40 percent aged over
60 by 2100.
"We see the end of world population growth on the horizon. But the level of
population size and the speed of increase will depend on policy and development
in the different regions," Wolfgang Lutz said in a telephone interview.
But Lutz, a demographer at the International Institute for Applied Systems
Analysis in Laxenburg, said the predictions reported in the science journal
Nature should not mean the end of population concerns because populations will still be
increasing in some of the world's poorest areas.
"Some of the most vulnerable regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, will
still see very significant population growth," he added.
it is impossible to predict what will happen in future centuries, Lutz and his
colleagues believe the 9 billion figure could be an all-time high for world
"Population aging will be the dominant population issue of this century
because the decline in fertility together with further increasing life
expectancy in most parts of the world except Africa will result in a significant
change in the age structure," said Lutz.
NUMBER OF ELDERLY TO RISE
In most European countries people over 60 make up 20 percent of the population.
Lutz and his team predict that by the middle of the century the figure will rise
to 35 percent and reach 45 percent by 2100.
They believe China's percentage of elderly will triple from 10 percent today to
30 percent by 2050. In Japan the elderly will comprise half the population by
the turn of the century.
The scientists said life expectancy would continue to rise, except in part of
Africa where the HIV/AIDS epidemic has taken a very heavy toll.
According to the scientists a fertility rate of 2.1 children is needed to
replace one generation with another. Many countries already have rates below
The greater number of elderly will increase pressure on social security services
and demand for care of the elderly and may necessitate changes in working
habits, according to Lutz.
But he added that declining numbers after the peak would be good news for
sustainable development because fewer people would cause less damage to the
Lutz and his colleagues based their predictions on many different simulations of
future world populations and data from a recent U.S. National Academy of Science