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A study on world population trends

Topics Covered: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

A study on world population trends

A study was conducted by researchers at University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

It analysed population trends in 195 countries.

  • It used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 to model future population in various scenarios as a function of fertility, migration, and mortality rates.

Key findings:

  • World population will peak in 2064, at 9.73 billion. This is 36 years earlier than the 11 billion peak projected for 2100 by last year’s UN report World Population Prospects.
  • For 2100, the report projects a decline to 8.79 billion from the 2064 peak.

 What about TFR?

Global total fertility rate (TFR) is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100.

  • It is projected to fall below 2.1 in 183 countries.
  • In 23 countries including Japan, Thailand, Italyand Spain, it is projected to shrink by more than 50%.

For a generation to exactly replace itself, the replacement-level total fertility rate (TFR) is taken to be 2.1.

India related findings:

  1. It projects a peak population of 1.6 billion in 2048, up from 1.38 billion in 2017.
  2. By 2100, the population is projected to decline by 32% to 1.09 billion.
  3. India’s TFR is already below 2.1 in 2019. It will reach 1.29 in 2100.
  4. The number of working-age adults (20–64 years) in India is projected to fall from around 748 million in 2017 to around 578 million in 2100. However, this will be the largest working-age population in the world by 2100.
  5. In the mid-2020s, India is expected to surpass China’s workforce population (950 million in 2017, and 357 million in 2100).
  6. From 2017 to 2100, India is projected to rise up the list of countries with the largest GDP, from 7th to 3rd.
  7. India is projected to have the second largest net immigration in 2100, with an estimated half a million more people immigrating to India in 2100 than emigrating out.
  8. Among the 10 countries with the largest populations in 2017 or 2100, India is projected to have one of the lowest life expectancies (79.3 years in 2100, up from 69.1 in 2017).


 Challenges ahead:

  • Forecasts highlight huge challenges to the economic growth of a shrinking workforce, the high burden on health and social support systems of an ageing population.
  • It forecasts continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth.

What needs to be done?

  1. Countries should address the potential catastrophic impact of a shrinking working-age population.
  2. Suggested Measures include: such as incentives to increase TFR, and using artificial intelligence as a path towards self-sufficiency.
  3. Wealthy countries such as the UK and the USA could counteract the impact of these changes through net migration of working-age adults from the countries with growing populations.
  4. The effect of fertility decline on women’s reproductive health rights has to be accompanied by greater economic independence. This would allow women to negotiate with the system on their own terms and for better support services as well.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is Global Burden of Disease Study? Who releases it?
  2. Top 5 countries with largest GDPs.
  3. What is TFR?

Note: The above article is pretty much loaded with facts. But, for Prelims, please concentrate on key data such as- TFR, doubling rate, population peak, working age population (With a special focus on India-related facts). And also compare these data with the data from UN report World Population Prospects.

Sources: Indian Express.