This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Population Projections from the UN Population Division

The United Nations Population Division yesterday released its latest set of population estimates and projections for all of the countries of the world. The biggest headline from this was the projection that India would probably overtake China as the world's most populous country sooner than previously thought--in 2022 rather than 2028.  I think that the bigger story is the demographic ascendency of Africa. As you can see below (the first table in the UN report), Asia is ascending demographically right now (despite the slowdown in China's growth), but Africa is growing more quickly than any other part of the world. 


Population increase in Asia and Africa is also associated with still young populations. Despite widespread declines in fertility, mortality is also declining and that keeps the population younger than it might otherwise seem. Furthermore, as John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division notes in his press release, we cannot just sit back idly and assume that fertility will continue to drop.

Our medium-variant projection assumes that fertility will continue to decline in countries where fertility is above the replacement level, and to increase slightly in countries where it is very low. However, such changes will not happen automatically. In effect, we are assuming that countries will continue to respond to the challenges presented by relatively high or low levels of fertility by adopting policies that help to enable couples, both men and women, to control the number, the timing and the spacing of their children.
There is a lot of change taking place and a lot of work to do, and the obsession in rich countries with the long-term impact of low birth rates is not helping us to generate good global policy. 

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