8 Billion and Counting: “Everyone’s Living Longer”

By: Mike Crooks

The United Nations calls it “a milestone in human development”.

On November 15, the world’s population reached 8 billion people, 11 years after it reached 7 billion in 2011. It had taken 12 years to reach the 7 billion milestone.

“This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine,” read a UN statement.

“It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries.”

Population growth

According to social research group McCrindle, more than 50 per cent of the population growth has been in Asia, followed by 37 per cent in Africa.

“[Asia and Africa] are also the most populous regions in the world at present, accounting for 4.7 billion and 1.4 billion people respectively,” read a McCrindle report.

Since 2011, countries in Asia gained around 700 million people.

India saw an increase of 180 million people, and is estimated to overtake China to become the world’s most populous nation next year.

India saw an increase of 180 million people, and is estimated to overtake China to become the world’s most populous nation next year.

Living longer

Part of the reason for the growth is the fact that people are now living longer, thanks to developments in health care, “along with the declining fertility rates”, read the McCrindle report.

Indeed, the world population has gone from a median age of 27 in 2010 to 30 in 2022.

But as the UN points out, in some countries the fertility rate is unusually high.

African countries Niger, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali average about six births per woman.

Research indicates that in these countries women start having children earlier than women in western countries, and there is also a lack of contraception use.

Slowing Growth

While it took the global population an unprecedented 11 years to increase by one billion, population growth is actually on the wane.

The next growth of one billion people will come from mostly African nations, while in other countries the fertility rate will be lower than 2.1 children per woman – the magic number to sustain a population.

Due to those opposing factors, it will take approximately 15 years for the world to reach the next milestone of 9 billion people.

It will take approximately 15 years for the world to reach the next milestone of 9 billion people.

When that occurs, Generation Alpha “will be the largest generation ever”, according to McCrindle.

More People, More Problems?

Though scientists have warned that an increasing population will naturally put more stress on the environment and the world’s resources, and further impact climate change, there are positives behind the 8 billion milestone.

“As a demographer, we’re really optimistic people because we’ve seen massive change over the past 100 years,” University of Queensland demographer Dr Elin Charles-Edwards told the ABC.

“Everyone’s living longer, fewer babies are dying, fewer women are dying.

“Across a whole range of metrics we’re doing better than we did. We’ve seen lots of small actions creating massive change for people.”


Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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