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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Monday, June 26, 2017

Most of Us Will Not Live to See the World's Population Stop Growing

Last week the United Nations Population Division released its latest round of World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision. Although there was nothing dramatically new in here, it provides a good overview of where we stand demographically. In particular, the report itself, along with CNN's reporting of the findings, remind us of the key role that Africa is playing in the world's demographic future. If you have read my book and followed this blog, you already knew that Nigeria has been on track for quite a while to displace the U.S. as the third most populous country by the middle of this century. But Nigeria is not alone in Africa in terms of its rate of growth--it just happens to be the most populous of Africa's countries. I have copied below two of the graphs from the UNPopulation Division report. The first shows the projected trajectory of world population growth through the rest of this century.

The medium-variant projection shows the world's population approaching a point of leveling off by the year 2100--83 years from now. Since life expectancy at birth in the United States is currently lower than that for both males and females, you can appreciate that only a relatively small fraction of people currently alive in this country--and in most other countries, as well--will be alive to see the world's population stop growing, unless something dramatic happens in the meantime. What would that dramatic thing be? The second graph offers the clue:

The current age structure is very young--largely because of Africa. What the world needs now is a huge effort to rapidly reduce the birth rate in Africa. 

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