Waiting for the 8 billionth inhabitant of the Earth

What challenges will humanity face due to the increase in world population?

In a few days, the world population will reach 8 billion people. The UN forecasts that this will happen on November 15.

According to the organization, more than 70 percent of people live in the 20 most populous countries. China is currently the leader in this ranking, but as early as next year, India is expected to become the most populous country in the world. Statistics show that over a third of the world’s population lives in the two Asian countries.

Passing the mark of 8 billion inhabitants of the Earth “is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, to recognize our common humanity, and to marvel at the advances in health care that have extended life expectancy and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality. At the same time, it is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet, as well as a moment to reflect on the areas in which we still fall short of our commitments to each other,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The current situation raises many questions. How long will the world population continue to increase? What are the risks of this process? And what conclusions can be drawn about the future of humanity?

Global changes

The birth of the 8 billionth inhabitant of the planet will undoubtedly show how advanced humanity is. Still, at the same time, it will remind us that we are facing a number of serious challenges. “One of the most important things to remember is that the whole world is going through a similar demographic transition to longer lives and smaller families. Different countries are at different stages of this process,” noted John Wilmot, director of the UN’s World Population Division.

The main reason for population growth is the increase in life expectancy. As a result, the birth rate is falling. In 1950, there were an average of 5 births per woman, while today they are about 2. Expectations are that in the coming decades most children will be born in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania. At the same time, other countries, including Bulgaria, will lose more than a fifth of their population. Migration is emerging as the main engine for population growth in developed countries.

“When we talk about all these processes, we should not forget that they are associated with a number of challenges. One of them is the lack of food, from which millions of people in different parts of the planet are suffering. Climate change is further exacerbating this problem. Issues such as access to clean water and other vital resources are no less worrisome,” Prof. Bruce Newbold, director of the Institute for Environment and Health at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Slower growth

The fact that the birth rate is falling is the main reason for the slowdown in the rate at which the world’s population is growing. According to UN forecasts, the number of people will reach its peak before the end of the century, probably around 2080. Then the population of the Earth will number approximately 10.4 billion people. The number in question will remain relatively stable until the end of the century. “The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multi-layered,” noted Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. According to him, “the rapid rate at which the number of people is increasing makes eradicating poverty, fighting hunger and malnutrition, and expanding the reach of health and education systems more difficult tasks to accomplish.”


“The world population is growing at a slower rate due to declining birth rates. The so-called fertility rate indicates the average number of children a woman would give birth to. To maintain the current number of people, the ratio should be 2.1. In many countries around the world, especially in Europe and North America, it is below or close to the questionable value of 2.1. It is important to understand that the more developed a country is, the better the living conditions in it, and the lower the coefficient. The reasons are different. One of them is that it is more expensive to raise children (think of the money spent on education, food, clothing, etc.), and also the death rate is significantly lower,” Prof. Newbold emphasized.

Aging population

Inevitably, the decline in the birth rate will also lead to an aging world population. The proportion of people over the age of 65 is currently approximately 10 percent. It is expected to increase to 16 percent in 2050. By the mid-century, the number of people of this age will become double that of children under 5 years of age and equal to that of children under 12 years of age. This has led a number of experts to point out that it is necessary to create an automated mechanism to raise the retirement age in parallel with life expectancy.

According to the United Nations, by the middle of this century life expectancy will rise to just over 77 years, compared to nearly 73 years in 2019. According to John Wilmot, this will lead to some significant changes: “We need to have a flexible view of that when people should retire and stop working. By living longer, it is possible to stay active for longer. I’m sure every person wants that.” Wilmot also believes that people should be encouraged to save and that there should be financial mechanisms that everyone can use with the idea of ​​setting aside as much money as possible for the future. “That way, people will have resources to rely on,” Wilmott said.

It should also be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the global population. It was the dangerous disease that became the main reason for the fact that in 2021 the average life expectancy fell to 71 years. Some studies indicate that there are countries where the waves of the pandemic have also led to a decrease in pregnancies and births. Last but not least, the restrictions imposed in connection with the fight against COVID-19 have significantly limited international migration.

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