In the past few decades, the global population has grown significantly with birth rates being much higher than the death rates. Previous research has always shown that the population is bound to increase even further. However, for the first time, new research expects the population to decline within this century.
According to the statistics, the current population of the world is approximately 7.8 billion. A new study, whose findings appear in the journal The Lancet, shows that the population will rapidly increase and reach 9.7 billion by the middle of the new century.
By the start of the upcoming century, there will be a dramatic decrease and the population will come down to 8.8 billion once again in 2100.
The Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the leading investigator of the new paper, Stein Emil Vollset, explains the study, saying:
“The last time that global population declined was in the mid 14th century, due to the Black Plague. If our forecast is correct, it will be the first time population decline is driven by fertility decline, as opposed to events such as a pandemic or famine,”
In the upcoming population decrease, many of the countries with a declining birth rate are expected to see tremendous falls in their populations. Such countries include Spain, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Thailand, and Portugal.
Additionally, China, which currently has the highest population in the world will also have a population decline. Statistically, China had a population of 1.4 billion people in 2017. By the year 2100, the study shows that the number will come down to around 732 million people.
On the other hand, the paper also adds that while some countries will experience a decline in their population, others will see growth.
For instance, countries in North Africa and the Middle East are likely to have an increase. In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have the highest growth in population from 1.03 billion t0 3.07 billion by the end of the century.
The new research, conducted by scientists from the IHME at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 to study the global population trends by the end of the century.
In the study, the scientists looked at specific factors that can contribute significantly to the changing trends such as birth and mortality rate, climate change, political tensions, and possibility of wars, migration, and immigration and natural disasters.
Overall, it was seen that the change is multifactorial with the primary reason being the current trend of decline in birth rates especially in aforementioned countries expected to experience a decrease in population.
Access to contraception and the development of women’s rights, education, and empowerment are also seen to make a major difference in the global population trends.
The scientists state that change in the global population will also alter lifestyles and geopolitical power structure of the world completely. It is possible that the current political leaders will no longer maintain their power monopoly.
The editor-in-chief of the Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton says that global trends like these are likely to bring a revolution. He also adds that the change in the global population is bound to make the world multipolar, with African and Arabian countries having more power than European countries.