Demography: why is the world population likely to halve by 2100?

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An estimate that goes against those of the United Nations, which predict a world population of 10 billion human beings by the end of the century. How many people will live on planet Earth by 2100? According to the highest estimates of the United Nations, we will be nearly 15 billion at the beginning of the next century. The medium scenario hovers around 10 billion and the lowest scenario projects 8 billion.

These findings are disputed by the report by HSBC Global Research and economist James Pomeroy. In a study relayed, Thursday, August 25, 2022, by Les Echos, the drastic drop in the birth rate and the increase in mortality would mean that the world population could reach its peak in 2043, approaching eight billion inhabitants before a decline in the number of births does not begin to total a little over four billion human beings in 2100.

“The decline in births worldwide is already incredibly large,” write experts from HSBC Global Research. “Globally, the UN estimates that nearly 40 million fewer babies will be born between 2020 and 22 than if the 2019 birth rate had remained stable.” The pandemic has a role to play in the decline in fertility.

During this period, the birth rate fell by 1%, “meaning that for every 1,000 people, one less baby is born today than in 2019”, illustrates the study. On the scale of 8 billion humans, that’s 8 million fewer babies every year.

However, not all of the world’s population is in the same boat. “In Europe, if things continue as they are, the population would halve by 2070, and we would have 400 million fewer people on the continent by the end of the century,” experts warn.

Several factors can contribute to a lower birth rate. The study cites improved economic development, improved access to health care and, in emerging countries, access to contraception.

In addition, the participation of women in the labor market has a role to play in the decline in births. According to Dr. Max Roser, founder of Our World in Data, quoted in the study, increasing the length of primary schooling for girls aged 0-6 leads to a 40-80% decrease in birth rates.

In addition, rising real estate prices could dampen the desire to start a family among young couples, who may postpone the birth of children in order to save longer.