Challenges Abound as World Population Reaches 8 Billion
The global population reached 8 billion people in November. According to the United Nations, the moment underscores the need for humanity to look beyond the numbers and meet its shared responsibility to protect people and the planet, starting with the most vulnerable.
“Unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion-strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
While the world’s population will continue to grow to around 10.4 billion in the 2080s, the overall rate of growth is slowing down. The world is more demographically diverse than ever before, with countries facing starkly different population trends ranging from growth to decline. Today, two-thirds of the global population lives in a low fertility context, where the lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman. At the same time, population growth has become increasingly concentrated among the world’s poorest countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Against this backdrop, the global community must ensure that all countries, regardless of whether their populations are growing or shrinking, are equipped to provide a good quality of life for their populations and can lift up and empower their most marginalized people.
“A world of 8 billion is a milestone for humanity – the result of longer lifespans, reductions in poverty, and declining maternal and childhood mortality. Yet, focusing on numbers alone distracts us from the real challenge we face: securing a world in which progress can be enjoyed equally and sustainably,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA executive director. “We cannot rely on one-size-fits-all solutions in a world in which the median age is 41 in Europe compared to 17 in sub-Saharan Africa. To succeed, all population policies must have reproductive rights at their core, invest in people and planet, and be based on solid data.”
Key facts and figures at a glance
- It took about 12 years for the world population to grow from 7 to 8 billion, but the next billion is expected to take approximately 14.5 years (2037), reflecting the slowdown in global World population is projected to reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s and to remain at that level until 2100.
- For the increase from 7 to 8 billion, around 70% of the added population was in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. For the increase from 8 to 9 billion, these two groups of countries are expected to account for more than 90% of global growth.
- Between now and 2050, the global increase in the population under age 65 will occur entirely in low income and lower-middle-income countries, since population growth in high-income and upper-middle income countries will occur only among those aged 65 years or over.
More information is available from the UN