WORLD POPULATION IN 2300 TO BE AROUND NINE BILLION, ACCORDING TO UN PROJECTIONS

9 December 2003
POP/881

WORLD POPULATION IN 2300 TO BE AROUND NINE BILLION, ACCORDING TO UN PROJECTIONS

09/12/2003
Press ReleasePOP/881

WORLD POPULATION IN 2300 TO BE AROUND NINE BILLION, ACCORDING TO UN PROJECTIONS

NEW YORK, 9 December (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) –- The Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations today released its new projections of world population in the year 2300.  These new long-range results are groundbreaking in two respects:  they extend the time horizon to 2300 (previous long-range projections were to 2150) and they include country forecasts (previously, long-range projections were available by continent only).  Such long-reaching projections are needed by environmental scientists, policy makers and others who assess the long-term implications of demographic trends.

According to the medium scenario of these projections (in which world fertility levels will eventually stabilize at around two children per woman), world population will rise from the current 6.3 billion persons to around 9 billion persons in 2300.  However, even small variations in fertility levels will have enormous impacts in the long term.  As little as one quarter of a child under the two-child norm, or one quarter of a child above the norm, results in world population ranging from 2.3 billion (low variant) to 36.4 billion (high variant) in 2300.  Another scenario (constant scenario), undertaken for the sake of illustration, finds that if fertility levels remain unchanged at today’s levels, world population would rise to 244 billion persons in 2150 and 134 trillion in 2300, clearly indicating that current levels of high fertility cannot continue indefinitely.

The report, World Population in 2300, is available on the Web site of DESA’s Population Division at: 

www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/longrange2.htm.

It is being presented today to leading population scientists from around the world at the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on World Population in 2300.  Participants will discuss these findings, as well as their likely consequences and implications. 

Key findings of the report include:

1.    According to the medium scenario, in which world fertility for every country averages around two children per woman, world population would rise from today’s 6.3 billion persons to around 9 billion persons in 2300.  

2.    Even at an average of two children per woman, population continues to rise, albeit slowly, due to continuously improving longevity (to over 100 years at birth for many countries).  The zero-growth scenario shows that if fertility were just 2 per cent lower than that of the medium-fertility scenario, population size would stabilize at around 8.3 billion persons.

3.    Low and high scenarios of world population in 2300 range between 2.3 billion persons and 36.4 billion persons.  The low scenario assumes that fertility in all countries stabilizes at around 1.85 children per woman; the high scenario assumes that fertility stabilizes at around 2.35 children per woman.

4.    If, for the sake of illustration, the fertility of countries remained unchanged from today’s levels, the constant scenario indicates that the world population would soar to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion in 2300, an untenable outcome.  This clearly reveals that current high levels of fertility cannot continue indefinitely.

5.    According to the medium scenario, Africa’s share of the world population would double, from 13 per cent of the world population in 2003 to 24 per cent in 2300.  Europe’s share would be halved, from 12 per cent today to 7 per cent in 2300.  India, China and the United States would continue to be the most populous countries in the world.

6.    The world population will continue to age rapidly; the median age of the world will rise from 26 years today to nearly 50 years in 2300.  According to the medium scenario, the number of persons aged 60 years or over would rise from 10 per cent of the world population today to 38 per cent in 2300.  The percentage aged 80 or over will rise from just 1 per cent today to

17 per cent in 2300.

7.    The new long-range population projections show a smaller future population size (9 billion persons) than previous United Nations long-range projections (10-12 billion).  This is primarily due to the recent fertility declines occurring throughout the developing world and expectations that future fertility trends in the developing countries will follow the path experienced by the developed countries.

For further information about World Population in 2300, please contact the Office of Joseph Chamie, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, tel:  (212) 963-3179, fax:  (212) 963-2147, e-mail:  chamiej@un.org; or Sabine Henning, tel:  (212) 963-3781, e-mail:  hennings@un.org; or Vivienne Heston-Demirel, Dept. of Public Information, tel:  (212) 963-2932, e-mail:  heston-demirel@un.org.

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For information media. Not an official record.