Posts Tagged ‘Population’

Global population will likely start reducing by 2070

July 19, 2017

The alarmist meme of a global population explosion leading to catastrophic depletion of resources and mass famines was already obsolete 20 years ago. The alarmism reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s  (peak oil, peak food, peak water, peak resources ….). At least the panicky stridency of the alarmism about a population explosion has long gone (though it has now shifted to become panicky stridency about catastrophic global warming).

The 2017 Revision of the UN World Population Prospects is now available.

  • the world’s population reached nearly 7.6 billion in mid-2017. The world has added one billion people since 2005 and two billion since 1993. In 2017, an estimated 50.4 per cent of the world’s population was male and 49.6 per cent female.
  • the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the medium-variant projection

However the projections are very sensitive to fertility rates and their development – especially in Africa. Actual fertility rates have always tended to be below UN projections of fertility.

In the 2017 review, the sensitivity to fertility rate is highlighted;

  • Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in the frequency of childbearing, when projected over several decades, can generate large differences in total population.
  • In the medium-variant projection, it is assumed that the global fertility level will decline from 2.5 births per woman in 2010-2015 to 2.2 in 2045-2050, and then fall to 2.0 by 2095-2100.
  • fertility levels consistently half a child below the assumption used for the medium variant would lead to a global population of 8.8 billion at mid-century, declining to 7.3 billion in 2100.
  • fertility has declined in virtually all regions of the world. In Africa, where fertility levels are the highest of any region, total fertility has fallen from 5.1 births per woman in 2000-2005 to 4.7 in 2010-2015. Over the same period, fertility levels also fell in Asia (from 2.4 to 2.2), Latin America and the Caribbean (from 2.5 to 2.1), and Northern America (from 2.0 to 1.85). Europe has been an exception to this trend in recent years, with total fertility increasing from 1.4 births per woman in 2000-2005 to 1.6 in 2010-2015. Total fertility in Oceania has changed little since 2000, at roughly 2.4 births per woman in both 2000-2005 and 2010-2015.

As with Asia, I expect that the decline of fertility in Africa will accelerate with development and GDP growth. If global fertility turns out to be as much as 0.5 children/woman less than the medium assumption, global population will start declining already by 2050. It may not happen quite that fast but it is now very likely that the decline will have begun by 2070. By the end of this century global population may not be much more than it is today.

It is only a matter of time before the alarmists start getting panicky and strident about the impending population implosion.


Sweden’s population will exceed 10 million today

January 20, 2017

The Swedish population will pass 10 million later today.

In 1969, 8 million people lived in Sweden. It took 35 years before the population passed 9 million in 2004. But only 13 years later, sometime in the first quarter of 2017, we will be more than 10 million inhabitants. Rapid growth will continue in the coming decades and we can be 12 million already by 2040.

The Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics has a population clock running on its website, and at 0700 on Friday 20th January 2017 reads:


Swedish population clock at 0700, 20170120

It should reach 10 million by around noon.

UPDATE: 10am, 20th January 2017:

20170120 1000

20170120 1000

The population increase in the last 50 years has been quite “healthy” and robust in demographic terms.

Sweden Population - SCB

Sweden Population – SCB

In Europe, Sweden has perhaps the most robust development of demographics with respect to the ratio of non-working (under 19 and over 65) to working population (20 -65). And that has been thanks, in spite of falling fertility rates, mainly to immigration and the slightly higher fertility rate among newcomers (though that comes down quickly to the prevailing rate). Currently around 17% of Sweden’s population was born outside Sweden. This will increase to be over 20% by 2040.

The Swedish pensions system is less under pressure than in Southern and Eastern Europe. Even Germany and France and the UK have a somewhat lower pensions risk because of net immigration. However in all these countries an increase of the regular pension age from 65 to 70 can be expected before 2040.


Indian fertility rates – across all religions – are the lowest they have ever been

August 25, 2015

The Indian Census Commission today released its report on the Population by Religious Communities of Census 2011. (The Census 2011 dashboard is here). Across all religions, fertility rates have never been lower. By 2050 it is almost certain that all religious groups will have fertility rates lower than the replenishment rate. The demographics for the next 70-80 years are pretty well fixed and now can only be significantly altered by drastic measures (such as mass sterilisation or one-child policies)

While Chinese population has just peaked and is already in decline, the Indian population is expected to peak a little before 2050. Both China and India are then expected to have significant population decline  for the rest of this century.

The Hindu carries a comprehensive report:

India’s Muslim population is growing slower than it had in the previous decades, and its growth rate has slowed more sharply than that of the Hindu population, new Census data show.

The decadal Muslim rate of growth is the lowest it has ever been in India’s history, as it is for all religions.

Census 2011: Population growth is % per decade graphic – The Hindu

The Muslim population still grows at a faster rate than the Hindu population, but the gap between the two growth rates is narrowing fast. India now has 966.3 million Hindus, who make up 79.8 per cent of its population, and 172.2 million Muslims, who make up 14.23 per cent. Among the other minorities, Christians make up 2.3 per cent of the population and Sikhs 2.16 per cent. ….

……. As has been the case since Independence, the rate of increase of the Muslim population is higher than that of the Hindu population as a result of higher Muslim fertility, higher child mortality among Hindus and a greater life expectancy among Muslims, demographers say. However, Muslim fertility rates in India are falling faster than among Hindus, Pew Research’s Future of World Religions report showed recently, and the Muslim community is expected to reach replacement levels of fertility by 2050. …

…… The data on Population by Religious Communities of Census 2011 show that between 2001 and 2011, Hindu population grew by 16.76 per cent, while that of Muslims by 24.6 per cent. The population of both communities grew faster during the previous decade, at 19.92 per cent and 29.52 per cent, respectively. As a long-term trend, say demographers, the communities’ growth rates are converging.

“Mad Professor” Ehrlich cries wolf again

June 20, 2015

Paul Ehrlich will probably be remembered as being the professor who has been more wrong, more often than any other.

To be proved spectacularly wrong , time after time, is apparently a prime qualification for “mad professors” to remain employed. Paul Ehrlich is the perfect example of what is wrong with the tenure system. Of course it helps if your predictions are about catastrophes to come which inevitably garner headlines – no matter how stupid the predictions are. He is at it again making doomsday predictions. This time the doom approaching is because humans have already started the 6th mass extinction which may include the disappearance of the human species. (Actually the earth has too many species and a drastic cull of species is needed).

It is worth recalling all the sensational, headline grabbing but wonderfully wrong predictions that Ehrlich has made:

  • 1968, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate …”
  • 1968, “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”
  • 1969, “By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth’s population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people.”
  • 1969, He predicted that by the end of the century the population of the US would be under 20 million, and our life expectancy would be around 40 years – due not to starvation, but to pesticides.
  • 1970, “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.”
  • 1970, “When you reach a point where you realize further efforts will be futile, you may as well look after yourself and your friends and enjoy what little time you have left. That point for me is 1972.”
  • 1970s, “The train of events leading to the dissolution of India as a viable nation is already in motion.”  He proposed a number of radical solutions to the overpopulation crisis; dumping sterilizing agents into water supplies, allowing only selected people the privilege of reproduction, and performing mass “triage” of nations, between those who don’t need help (North America, Australia, parts of Europe), those who can be saved, and those who are beyond help – India, Sub-Saharan Africa, and much of Asia, which he predicted would be hell on earth by the 1980’s
  • 1971, “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people. …… I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

For 4 decades he has made predictions about catastrophes due to famine, depletion of resources, disease, poisoning by pesticides, global warming and climate disruption. Every one of his predictions about the future has been, or is being, proved wrong. Sometimes he gets his history right, but his ability to look forward, even over short times, is hopelessly flawed.

Now he is at it again about the 6th mass extinction that has “already started”. But we actually have more species today than we have probably ever had. The detritus of failed and failing species needs to be cleaned out.

Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anthony D. Barnosky, Andrés García, Robert M. Pringle and Todd M. Palmer. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances, 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400253

Abstract: ...  We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way.

But there are still more species around than ever before. And a lot of them need to go extinct to make way for others that are more suited. No previous mass extinction has been any threat to life on earth though it has each time cleared the decks of species not fit or worthy to continue.

The fossil record shows that biodiversity in the world has been increasing dramatically for 200 million years and is likely to continue. The two mass extinctions in that period (at 201 million and 66 million years ago) slowed the trend only temporarily. Genera are the next taxonomic level up from species and are easier to detect in fossils. The Phanerozoic is the 540-million-year period in which animal life has proliferated. Chart created by and courtesy of University of Chicago paleontologists J. John Sepkoski, Jr. and David M. Raup.

But the one good thing about Paul Ehrlich’s predictions is that it provides a clear identification of an area not to worry too much about.

Without immigration OECD populations will be in decline and in crisis

January 17, 2014

In times of high unemployment the anti-immigration voices are raised very high everywhere and especially in many European countries. Much of the sentiment is rooted in racist views whether against those of Asian or African or East European origin. In Japan it is seen as threatening the homogeneity of the country. But what every politician well knows – but which some will not dare to admit for fear of losing their populist base – is that  without net immigration in, OECD countries will face an increasing crisis of declining populations, declining labour force and an increase in the  proportion of the aged. They are all very well aware that expanding the working population to at least match the increase in the “aged” proportion is critical to maintaining the standard of welfare and health care that they have become accustomed to. Increasing the retirement age – which is already on the table as trial balloons – is unavoidable because even with immigration the proportion of the working population relative to the “aged” is in decline.

In OECD countries fertility rates are already well below the replacement level of 2.1 per woman. It is higher only in Israel, Iceland and New Zealand, and in India, South Africa and Indonesia. China is already down at 1.6 and India is down to 2.63 and declining fast.

The Local

France’s fertility rate has fallen below the symbolic level of two babies per woman and 2013 saw the slowest population growth in the country for well over a decade, new data revealed this week.

The 280,000 births in 2013 marked a 1.3 percent decline from 2012 with France’s fertility rate falling from 2.03 children per woman in 2010 to 1.99 children last year, according to the France’s national statistics agency INSEE. …… 

Despite the drop in the birth rate, France remains second only to Ireland when it comes to Europe’s most fertile nations. Women in Ireland, where the population is 4.6 million, had on average 2.01 children each in 2013.

These figures stand in stark contrast to Germany and Portugal, which had the lowest fertility rates on the continent. Germany recorded a rate of 1.38 per woman, followed by Portugal with 1.28 offspring per woman.

Korea, Hungary, Spain and Japan are the other countries where fertility rates are less than 1.4.

Fertility rates (2010 data) by country is here: OECD Total fertility rates 1970, 2010

Statistics are from the OECD Library:

Total fertility rates in OECD countries have declined dramatically over the past few decades, falling on average from 2.7 in 1970 to 1.7 children per woman of childbearing age in the 2000s. In all OECD countries, fertility rates declined for young women and increased at older ages. A modest recovery in total fertility rates started in the early 2000’s, to an average level of 1.7 in 2010. The total fertility rate is below its replacement level of 2.1 in most OECD countries except Israel, Iceland and New Zealand, and in India, South Africa and Indonesia.

The last few years have seen various trends emerge in fertility rates. A drop in fertility rates has occurred, for example in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, while rates have continued to rise in Iceland, Israel, Sweden, and Switzerland. The increase in fertility stopped in many other countries. The effect of the economic downturn is as yet unknown, but persistent economic uncertainties can impact downward the number of children women may have over their reproductive life.

OECD Fertility trends

OECD Fertility trends

OECD fertility table

The difference between the decline in fertility rates between India and China is of particular interest. While some of the difference is due to different rates of development, most of the difference can be attributed to the draconian one-child policy in China. But that is now being relaxed as the coming decline in the Chinese population becomes obvious..

The shortages of the proportion of working population – unless immigration is used to mitigate the shortfall – is inevitable and will really begin to bite over the next twenty years or so.

Waves of aging

December 15, 2013

The aging of the world is not news, but visualising the change is done very well here:

Population By Age, Japan

Population By Age, Japan

Population By Age, U.S.

Population By Age, U.S.

Not all countries are getting older. Many developing countries still have high fertility rates, and children account for a huge share of the people in those countries. (Typically, fertility rates don’t start falling until countries hit a certain stage of economic development.)

When you look at the whole world, you see a blend of these two trends — the population of the globe is aging, on average, but there are still far more children than old people.

World Population Breakdown By Age

World Population Breakdown By Age


The inexorable numbers – 10:10:10:100 is inevitable around 2100

December 4, 2013

10:10:10:100 by 2100

The “success” of a species is generally taken to be indicated by its population though it is of course possible to have quantity without much quality of life. In general however, an increasing population of any species does indicate the sufficiency of food, the ability of the species to withstand competition from other species and the ability to breed successfully in the prevailing conditions. And so it is for humans. Based on population, modern humans have never been as successful as they currently are. And in spite of all the doom-sayers and the alarmists, the fact remains that more humans are being fed and housed and are achieving some large part of their aspirations than ever before. They are living longer than ever before  and their life expectancy is still increasing – currently by about 2 -3 months every year.

However  just looking at the crude birth rate (number of births per 1000 of population) might lead one to a conclusion that there was a catastrophic decline in the human species.

Crude Birth Rate / 1000 of population

Crude Birth Rate / 1000 of population

Birth rates have declined from about 37/1000 in 1950 to less than 15/1000 now and are projected to be around 10/1000 by 2100. For any other species that would be a catastrophic decline. But of course that conclusion would be quite wrong when applied to humans. The mortality rate of humans has also declined drastically as medical and public health advances have been made. And human ingenuity has maintained food and material supplies such that life expectancy has increased in spite of a booming population.

Birth and mortality rates

Birth and mortality rates

The fact that population and life expectancy have increased simultaneously is a clear indicator that the quality of life has not deteriorated. There may be problems of equitable distribution but there is no shortage of food or other resources – and no prospect of any catastrophic shortages occurring. All other indicators tell the same story. Infant mortality, poverty and malnourishment are all at all-time lows and declining even if these can be lower still. The real GDP per capita is increasing. Leisure time (time not spent on the requirements for survival) is increasing and for more people than ever before. The age of space exploration and the potential for access to new sources of raw materials and even real estate has already begun.

There are many who rail against the consumer society and materialism but generally do so from a position of some comfort. There are others who moan the loss of spirituality and yearn for a return to a simpler life but they too are not quite ready to return to the trees. There is no shortage of doom-mongers and alarmists who merely keep pushing their doomsdays into the future where they cannot be disproved.

It is a question of attitude. There are those who would prefer to be governed by fear (the precautionary principle) and there are others who would move forward in spite of their fears.

But the reality is that the human species – with all its warts and threats and self-inflicted problems – is thriving.

Population and life expectancy WPP2012

Population and life expectancy WPP2012

It is not a forecast or an objective but merely the inexorable arithmetic of demographics which leads to the inevitability of 10:10:10:100 around the year 2100.

10 billion population, 10 births per 1000 of population, 10 deaths per 1000 of population and a life expectancy at birth of 100 years.

I prefer to see the glass half-full rather than the glass half-empty.

China relaxes highly successful one-child policy

November 15, 2013

It was no doubt authoritarian and draconian and there may well be many unforeseen emotional and psychological side-effects to come for many generations, but the bottom line is that the Chinese one-child policy has done the trick insofar as population numbers is concerned. The Chinese population will reach its peak of just under 1.4 billion around 2020 and will then decline dropping to less than 1 billion by 2100. Around 2020, India’s population will exceed the Chinese population and will continue to increase until about 2060 reaching a peak of about 1.7 billion. Then by 2100 the India population will have declined to about 1.5 billion.

ReutersChina unwrapped its boldest set of economic and social reforms in nearly three decades on Friday, relaxing its one-child policy and further freeing up markets in order to put the world’s second-largest economy on a more stable footing.

The sweeping changes helped dispel doubts about the leadership’s zest for the reforms needed to give the economy fresh momentum as three decades of breakneck expansion shows signs of faltering.

The chart below is based on an analysis of the World Population Prospects 2010 and not on the latest 2012 projections. However the numbers and trends are largely the same.

WPP2010 Population projections till 2100

WPP2010 Population projections till 2100

Even if fertility rates now increase much more than predicted, the Chinese government now has a tried and tested – if disliked – population control method to fall back on. An increased fertility rate is now absolutely necessary to avoid a major aging challenge after about 2050 when the ratio of the working population to the supported population could reach crisis levels.

By 2100, 8 million could be over 100 years old

November 13, 2013

The 2012 review of the UN’s World Population Prospects was released in August this year.

World Population Prospects 2012 (pdf – 3.53Mb)

Charts are still – presumably – being prepared since the interactive charts from the 2010 review are no longer available on the UN site and have not yet been replaced by new charts.

The basic picture is still of fertility rates decreasing steadily with the medium scenario giving a world population stabilising at about 10.8 billion around 2100. Chinese population is just about at its peak and will now be reducing till 2100. Indian population will reach its peak around 2060 and then start declining. African population will reach its peak only around 2100.

WPP12 Fertlity

WPP12 Fertlity

There is a massive amount of data and projections, and the interesting thing about demographic forecasts done on this scale is that the “inertia” is high. Consequently much of the “forecast” is inevitable and the key parameter is the fertility rate. In 1953, 99.9% of the world population exhibited a fertility rate greater than 2.1 children per woman (the static population replenishment rate). Now in 2013, 49% of the world’s population have a fertility rate lower than 2.1. Half the world’s population is already shrinking. By 2100 this will be 81% and the world population as a whole will be shrinking.

A significant proportion of those under ten years old today will still be around in 2100. Today about 20% of the world population is under 10 years old ( approximately 1,400 million). In 2100 around 8% of 10.8 billion will be over 80 years old. Assuming that say 3% are older than 87 years, it would mean that 320 million (or 23% of those under 10 or about 5% of everybody) living today will still be around in 2100. Today about 14% of the world’s population is over 60 and about 2% are over 80. By 2100, 35% will be over 60 and about 8% over 80 years old. The 950 million over 60 today will become 3,800 million by 2100.

More than 800 million people will be over 80 and I would estimate that around 1% of these  – or 8 million – could be over 100 years old!

Bloomberg (2012)Unicharm Corp.’s sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies for the first time last year.

Just the demographics is changing the make up of the world and its genetic mix.

WPP12 population mix

WPP12 population mix

The human genetic pool in 2100 will be geographically placed 40% in Africa, 40% in Asia with the remaining 20% spread between The Americas, Oceania and Europe. And while there will be some migration and genetic mixing, this basic distribution will be maintained. Moreover, fertility rates will be stable and close to (even if just under) 2.1 in all regions. Median age is also on the way up world-wide.

WPP12 median age

WPP12 median age

Life expectancy is rising across the world:

The twentieth century witnessed the most rapid decline in mortality in human history. In 1950-1955, life expectancy at the world level was 47 years and it had reached 69 years by 2005-2010. Over the next 40 years, life expectancy at birth at the global level is expected to reach 76 years in 2045-2050 and 82 years in 2095-2100 (table III.1 and figure III.1). The more developed regions already had a high expectation of life in 1950-1955 (64.7 years) and have since experienced further gains in longevity. By 2005-2010 their life expectancy stood at 76.9 years, 10 years higher than in the less developed regions where the expectation of life at birth was 67.0 years. Although the gap between the two groups is expected to narrow between 2005 and mid-century, in 2045-2050 the more developed regions are still expected to have considerably higher life expectancy at birth than the less developed regions (82.8 years versus 74.8 years). Throughout 2010-2100, systematic progress against mortality is further expected to increase life expectancy at birth up to 88.9 years in the more developed regions and 80.8 years in the less developed regions thereby further reducing the gap in mortality between the two groups.

What occurs to me also is that famine, disease, war and the effects of natural catastrophes are becoming less and less relevant demographically. But I shall return to that subject in another post.

The youth of the world in 2100

June 8, 2013

In China the youth (age 15 – 24) population is already declining. In India it will keep increasing till about 2050 and then decline. In Africa it will be growing until about 2100. Most of the youth of today will not be around in 2100 but the youth of that time who will see the world through to 2200 will be 500 million each in Africa and Asia and less than 300 million in the rest of the world – subject of course to any geographical population shifts that might take place. In the period till 2100 such migrations will probably not be so significant.

From the UN’s World Population Prospects (2012 Revision):

Population age 15-24

youth of the world 2100

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