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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015 PRB World Population Data--Get 'em While They're Hot

It's been a busy few days for population data. First the UN Population Division came out with its new set of population projections, and today the Population Reference Bureau released its latest set of world population data (don't leave home without them!). This year the overall theme of their data analysis is the empowerment of women, which is a key to future demographic success in the world. They have also added a new interactive data map that actually can be embedded in your own website, if you'd like to treat your readers to that. BloombergBusiness did an interesting job of covering the data release, including the graph below.

After America dominated the 20th century, a view formed that Asia would be the next to lead the world in economic and cultural influence. Africa may have something to say about that before the century is out.

The continent will claim three of the world's 10 most populous countries in 2050, according to projections released Tuesday by the Population Reference Bureau in Washington. The largest of those, Nigeria, will be just 1 million people shy of the U.S.'s size, with Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia entering the list. They replace Russia and Mexico, with the former's exit leaving Europe with no country on the top 10 list.
Key to the countries' growth? Babies. While the U.S. and other developed countries struggle to adapt their labor forces to an aging population, African countries are experiencing a baby boom. Niger, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Chad have the highest fertility rates in the world.

"The population gains are also due to a decline in mortality rates due to improvements in public health," said Peter Goldstein, vice president with the PRB, who oversaw production of its 2015 World Population Data Sheet. "Africa is going to be a key driver in population growth over the next few decades."
No doubt about that. 


  1. I have been digging a lot deeper into the math of the demographic models. Including the books ... Demography (Preston, Heuveline and Guillot), and World Population Dynamics (Barbara Anderson).

    Your simple population chart above speaks volumes. Can we imagine a world where Nigeria has the same population (more or less) as the USA? NO, we cannot!! The energy trends, supply of energy for the society, do not support such a conclusion.

    Can we imagine a world where Pakistan is 80% of the population of the USA. Again, I reach the conclusion NO. A simple review of the economy of Pakistan will reveal why.

    Perhaps most troubling, a world where Bangladesh and the Congo have roughly 200 million people? Not conceivable.

    I think your own computations about Food Supply raise some serious issues about constraints on these population numbers. And there is a deeper question about the "social organization" of human societies, in a crowded world where resources are very constrained.

    Pete, Redondo Beach

    1. I agree completely that we need to see these population projections as a global wake-up call.

  2. l am Japanese. l live in Japan.
    Japan's population dynamics is getting worse. Japan needs immigrant.

    1. Yes, but I don't think that most people in Japan share that view.