A new epoch: Human population to peak in 44 years

Global population estimated to touch 9.73 bln in 2064, then decline to 8.79 bln in 36 years

By Richard Mahapatra
Published: Wednesday 15 July 2020

We are in the process of declaring a new epoch – the anthropocene – dedicated to the humans’ impeccable impacts on the natural planet, but our population is well on a natural declining curve. It will hit a rate from which recovering the population will be difficult. 

The global population would peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, and then decline to 8.79 billion in the next 36 years or by the end of this century, according to study published in The Lancet.

Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington conducted the study using a different model; they applied indicators such as progress in Sustainable Development Goals and migration of population besides mortality and fertility rates.

The forecast covered 195 countries for the duration 2018-2100.

“This is a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” Christopher Murray, researcher of the study, told the British media. According to the forecast, the global fertility rate (TFR) will drop to 1.7 from 2.4 in 2017.

By 2100, India will be the most populated country in the world, displacing China to the third spot. Nigeria will be the second-most populated country in the world, followed by the United States in the fourth position and Pakistan at number five.

This is despite India witnessing a sharp decline in population in the second half of this century.

“The reference forecast population peak before 2050 for China and India. Both countries, thereafter, would have steep declining trajectories, with China down to 51.1 per cent and India to 68.1 per cent of their peak populations in 2100,” the study found.

India has already reached a TFR lower than the replacement level in 2018, according to the study.

“Thereafter, India is forecast to have a continued steep decline until about 2040, reaching a TFR of 1.29 (95 per cent UI 0.99–1.89) in 2100,” said the report.

The demography is also going to change drastically. Presently, it is said the planet has a young population like never before. But the same would be reversed in 2100.

There would be 2.37 billion people above 65 by the end of the century, in comparison to 1.70 billion people under 20.

“At the same time, the number of individuals aged above 80 years was forecast to increase from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100,” the study said.

The world will have less children as the elderly population will increase. Between 2017 and 2100, the population of children younger than five years would decline by 41 per cent.

However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and West Asia, population would continue to increase beyond the century. Population in central Europe, Eastern Europe, and central Asia super-region had already peaked in 1992 and continued to decline through the century.

“The declines were forecast to be most severe in south Asia; southeast Asia, east Asia and Oceania; and central Europe, eastern Europe, and central Asia,” said the study.

The study made a forecast of future migration of population among countries as well. At a time when immigration is a hot political concern, the forecast of this group indicated a more troubled future: 118 of 195 countries and territories will have “net migration rates between -1 and 1 per 1,000 population in 2100”.

Additionally, 44 countries would have double the migration rate per 1,000 population. In absolute numbers, the three countries that would have the highest number of immigrant populations are the US, India and China.

On the other hand, the countries that would have the highest emigration rate are Somalia, the Philippines and Afghanistan.

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