Contrary to the fear mongering of the population alarmists, the world is not heading for a demographic catastrophe.
The latest data on world population from the U.N. Population Division reveals a number of trends that seem to indicate otherwise.
The following is PRI’s brief overview of some of the findings from the recently released 2015 Revision of the World Population Prospects.
According to the U.N. Population Division, world population is estimated to be 7.3 billion today.
That number is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. In the past two and a half decades, world population has increased by 2 billion people. Yet despite the rapid rise in world population, the percentage of people living with hunger in developing countries has actually dropped from 24% to 14% over the same time period.
Welcoming another 4 billion to the human family does not appear to necessitate a demographic catastrophe.
Child Mortality Info Graphic
In fact, the future appears to be quite bright for future generations, especially in poorer and less developed nations. Infant and childhood mortality are set to decline sharply worldwide. By 2100, the rate of deaths among children under the age of five will fall as much as 82% in less developed nations and 80% in the world’s least developed countries.
Life Expectancy Worldwide info graphic
Future generations will also have significantly longer lifespans to look forward to.
World average life expectancy at birth in the early 1950’s was 48 years for women and 45 for men. Today those numbers are 73 for women and 68 for men. By 2100, life expectancy at birth will have risen to almost 85 for women and 82 for men worldwide and even higher in developed nations—92 years for women.
The challenges of the 21st century, rather than stemming from overpopulation, appear to arise from falling fertility rates and larger aging cohorts with comparatively fewer from younger cohorts to support them.
By 2100, potential dependents (adults over 65 and dependents under 20) in high and upper-middle income countries will constitute half of the total population, up from about 37% today.
Dependancy Ratio info graphic
While the number of deaths will outnumber the number of births in Europe by 3.2 million between 2015 and 2020, that number is set to quadruple by mid-century.
Japan and ten European countries are set to see their total populations decline by more than 15% by 2050.
Total Births vs. Total Deaths in Europe infographic
Overall, the world will look very different demographically in 2100 than it looks today. Many developments are positive—such as a decrease in child mortality and greater life expectancy—while others present challenges—such as increasing dependency, population decline in some areas, and feeding a world of 11 billion people.
Population alarmist would have us believe the world is overpopulated with too many people placing too great a strain on the environment and our resources.
While it is true that we all share limited resources on this one planet we call home, hunger and poverty in the world today are largely the result of underdevelopment, civil strife or conflict, and poor distribution of wealth, not an excess in today’s population.
Environmental degradation, although a pressing problem, has much more to do with an irresponsible disposal of waste, corporations cutting corners to meet their bottom lines, poor urban planning and excessive urban sprawl, and a culture of waste that has been fostered in developed nations.
Whatever challenges lie ahead, the solution cannot be a compulsion to drive down populations by inundating women with unwanted birth control and abortion.
The last century saw a litany of abuses of the human rights and integrity of women and men including:
China’s still on-going one child per family policy. Since 1979, enforcement of the policy has reduced the population of China by approximately 400 million people, countless numbers of which were as a result of forced abortion. As one family planning slogan in China goes, “It would be better to have blood flow like a river than to increase the population by one.”
Between 1975 and 1977, India sterilized approximately 11 million men and women under coercive and oftentimes forced terms. The India Express reported instances where men were corralled into the streets by police before dawn and sent off to clinics to be sterilized en masse.
Sterilization campaigns in Peru during the late 1990’s sterilized over 300,000 women, most of them indigenous peoples who were coerced by bribes or withholding basic services. In many instances, women did not give consent and were forcibly sterilized.
UNFPA and USAID programs routinely inundate women with contraception that they do not want, oftentimes dispensing of it without their informed consent.
Women should not be pressured into accepting sterilization and abortifacient contraception pills and devices with bribes and other methods of coercion.
Every person should be guaranteed the right to full informed consent on any medical procedure or device being performed on them including information on possible side-effects, professional medical advice, and access to information in the patient’s own language.
Rather than deciding for others through the lens of our Western values what is best for them, women should be allowed to determine for themselves the size of their families, free from pressure and coercion.
As we approach the rest of the 21st century, let us leave behind the human rights abuses of the last century and let people be free agents of their own future.
[August 17, 2015, Jonathan Abbamonte, pop.org, email]