The Eight Billionth Birth
(Arpi, newborn in Gegharkunik, Armenia: Facebook image)
On November 15, 2022, a girl was born in Armenia in the Caucasian region with a height of 49 cm and a weight of 2.9 kg. The child's name is Arpi. The United Nations celebrated the baby's birth, and the governor of Gegharkunik province, where the baby was born, also announced the baby's birth on social media. World media also reported the birth of Arpi.
Who in the world is this baby to get so much attention? In fact, this baby is the 8 billionth person on earth, and recognized as such by the United Nations. How did that happen? Doesn't this deserve global attention?
The UN announced that the world population has passed 8 billion as of the 15th.
(United Nation Population Fund website, https://www.unfpa.org/)
Let's take a quick look at how quickly the population has grown.
◎ In 8,000 BC, when humans started farming, the world's population was about 5 million, and by 1 AD, it reached about 200 million. That's an increase of 195 million people over a period of 8,000 years.
◎ With the industrial revolution in the 1700s, the infant mortality rate plummeted, and the population exploded, reaching 1 billion in 1800. After the Industrial Revolution, it increased by 800 million in 100 years.
◎ Since the number of human beings, which reached 4 billion in 1974, now exceeds 8 billion, it took only 48 years to double—an increase of 4 billion.
◎ Currently, about 140 people are born per minute, which is about 200,000 people a day, and about 80 million new lives are born annually.
Expected to increase to 10.4 billion by 2080
On July 11, the UN issued a report on World Population Day. “World Population Day” is a day to commemorate July 11, 1987, when the world’s population reached 5 billion to raise awareness of the seriousness of the population problem.
Global population will naturally increase over time. The population trend estimated in this report is expected to peak at 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and 10.4 billion around 2080, and should remain at that level till 2100.
(Image credit: BBC)
However, even if the population increases, it seems the rate will not be as fast as in the past. In many nations, fertility rates have declined dramatically in recent decades, so the rate of growth is expected to moderate, slowing down considerably.
Today, two-thirds of the world's population lives in nations or regions with fertility rates under 2.1 births per mother; this is expected to decline even further.
(12 nations with population over 100 million, Source: UN)
Then, in which regions will the population increase?
The UN projects that by 2050, over half the world's growing population will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania. Most of the growing population is concentrated in the underdeveloped sub-Saharan African countries. The World Population Review (WPR), an American population information agency, projects that Africa's population will reach 2.4 billion by 2050 and increase to 4.1 billion by 2100, constituting over a third of global population.
(Population growth forecast by continent and region, source: UN)
(Population trends in Tanzania. Source: worldpopulationreview)
(Population trends in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Source: worldpopulationreview)
(Population Trends in Pakistan. Source: worldpopulationreview)
What we can learn from population reports
Let's look at some facts we can glean from the United Nation’s population report and the United States' World Population Review (WPR) data.
◎ As of this year, 2.3 billion people (29% of the world's population) live in East Asia and Southeast Asia, followed by 2.1 billion people (26%) in Central and South Asia.
(Population trends by region. Source: worldpopulationreview)
◎ Next year (2023) India is set to overtake China, becoming the world's most populous nation. The populations of the two nations are neck-a-neck at 1.4 billion now, but by 2050, India will boast 1.66 billion while China will lag at 1.31 billion.
(Above population trends from source: worldpopulationreview)
(Population rankings by nation. Source: UN)
◎ As of 2019, global life expectancy is 72.8 years, and is expected to rise to 77.2 years in 2050. But life expectancy in low-income countries is currently 63 years, nearly a decade below the global average. This gap is expected to close to 8.4 years in 2050. Mortality rates for children under age 5 are also 13 times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries.
(Life expectancy by region. Source: United Nations)
◎ Life expectancy was lower for men than for women across countries in all regions, from 2.9 years in Australia and New Zealand to 7 years in South America and the Caribbean.
◎ The number of people aged 65 and older is growing rapidly worldwide, and the proportion of people aged 65 is expected to increase from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050. Thus nations with aging populations must make efforts to improve the sustainability of long-term care systems, social security, and pension programs.
◎ Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America have recently declined but still have high teenage fertility rates. In 2021, the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 was highest in sub-Saharan Africa at 101, followed by 53 in Latin America and the Caribbean. Birth statistics for women aged 10 to 14 also ranked the same.
Teenage birth can have adverse health and social consequences for both mother and child. Fortunately, most governments in the region are taking policy action to improve adolescent sexual behavior and health, with adolescent childbirth as a major concern, the UN said.
(Teen birth rate by region. Source: United Nations)
◎ In contrast to most developed countries grappling with rapidly declining populations, the populations of the USA and Canada are expected to continue growing. The reason is the high immigration rate and natural increase (difference between births and deaths). According to the US Census Bureau, the US population growth rate is between 0.7% and 0.9% per year. Canada's population growth over the past decade has ranged between 0.8% and 1.2%. Immigration will be the only population growth factor in high-income countries in the future.
(USA population trend. Source: worldpopulationreview)
(Canada population trend. Source: worldpopulationreview)
◎ The population graphs of most countries show no change in trend, either rising or falling, but there are two countries with large points of change in the middle of the graph: Venezuela in South America and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Venezuela experienced a population decline over the last five years but is expected to increase again.
(Venezuela population trend. Source: worldpopulationreview)
The Ukraine's population has also been declining since the 1990s due to people fleeing poverty and corruption. The United Nations estimates that Ukraine could lose nearly one-fifth of its population by the 2050s.
(Ukraine population trend: worldpopulationreview)
(See the above links)
For population growth to be a blessing to mankind
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a congratulatory message: “The achievement of 8 billion people is an occasion for us to celebrate human diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at the advances in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality. At the same time, it reminds us of our collective responsibility to care for the planet.”
Is the increasing number of people on Earth positive or negative? What is clear is that explosive population growth can pose a threat to humanity. In fact, Egypt, the host country of the recently held 27th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), put "How rapid population growth can exacerbate the country's vulnerability to respond to climate change" as an important agenda item. According to the Washington Post (WP), the Egyptian government considers population growth a serious security threat and is pushing for birth control at a cost of millions of dollars.
Population growth is a real problem on a global scale. It is time for all of us to think about ensuring that population growth is conducive to the sustainable development of the planet and does not become a cause of global inequality.