World population touches 7 billion

Ten billionth baby likely by end of the century if population growth continues at current rate

By Sonal Matharu
Published: Monday 31 October 2011

ImageThe world population touched seven billion today. The birth of two girls—one in India and the other in Philippines —was celebrated around the world.

The Indian baby girl, named Nargis, was born in Mal, 20 kilometres from Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous and one of the poorest states in the country. The selection of this child by a non-profit, Plan International, was symbolic. 

“This seven billionth tag is given to a girl to give importance to girls. This is just a way to highlight an issue,” says Smita Bajpai from Chetna, a non-profit that works for women and child health. It is not possible to predict a birth, it could be estimated using the numbers given by the population clock. The world population clock works on data from the US Census Bureau and gives an estimate of the number of people in the world at any given date and time. India, too, has its population clock that is updated based on the birth and death rate in the country. The UN had announced earlier that it could not specify where the seven billionth baby would be born.

Population projection between 2009 and 2050 

  • Asia’s urban population will double, from 1.7 billion people to 3.4 billion people
  • Africa’s will triple, from 399 million to 1.2 billion
  • Population in Latin America and the Caribbean will rise from 462 million to 648 million
  • Europe’s city dwellers, meanwhile, will increase from 531 million to 582 million, and North America’s from 285 million to 404 million.

The world population was six billion in 1999, meaning one billion population was added in the past 12 years. If the current rate of population growth continues, it is estimated that the world's population will cross the the 9 billion mark by 2050, while the end of the century could see that figure soaring to over 10 billion (see 'Population projection between 2009 and 2050').

Can planet Earth sustain this large population growth? For one, food and water will be in short supply. Per-capita water consumption is rising twice as fast as the population. Over the next 20 years, the human need for fresh water will be 40 per cent more than today's consumption. The United States is the world’s largest consumer in general: sustaining the lifestyle of the average American uses all the resources available from 21 acres of land (9.5 hectares). Germans require 10 acres (4.2 hectares), while Indians and most Africans require less than 2.2 acres (1 hectare). The world average is 4.8 acres (2.2 hectares).

—Inputs from Dinsa Sachan and Anupam Chakravartty


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