4 November 2004


Press Release

United Nations projects world population to stabilize


at around 9 billion people by year 2300


Without Continuing Fertility Declines in Developing World,

Figure Could Reach 44 Billion by 2100, According to Projections

NEW YORK, 4 November (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- World population will be around 9 billion in 2300, according to the medium scenario of projections of World Population to 2300, a new report by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

In the medium scenario, world fertility levels will eventually stabilize at around two children per woman.  But even small variations in fertility levels will have enormous impacts in the long term, says the Population Division.  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, the constant scenario undertaken for the sake of illustration, finds that if fertility levels remain unchanged at today’s levels, world population would rise to 44 billion in 2100, 244 billion persons in 2150 and 1.34 trillion in 2300, clearly indicating that current high fertility levels cannot continue over the long term.

The projections of world population to the year 2300 are ground-breaking in two respects:  they extend the time horizon to 2300 (previous long-range projections were to 2150), and they include country forecasts (previous 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.

Key findings of the report include:

-- 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 6.4 billion persons to around 9 billion persons in 2300.  

-- Low and high scenarios of world population in 2300 range between 2.3 billion persons and 36 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.

-- 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.

-- With progress in life expectancy continuing, people could expect, on average, to live more than 95 years by 2300.  Japan, which is the global leader in life expectancy today, is projected to have a life expectancy of more than 106 years by 2300.

-- 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.

-- 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.

The report includes a set of essays by well-known thinkers in the population field, reflecting on these and other findings.  These essays, which greatly enrich the debate on future world population, are by Alaka Basu, Herwig Birg, John Caldwell, Joel Cohen, David Coleman, Paul Demeny, Timothy Dyson, Francois Heran, Jay Olshansky, Michael Teitelbaum, Charles Westoff and John Wilmoth.

The report, World Population to 2300, is available on the web site of DESA’s Population Division:  For additional information, please contact the office of Mr. Joseph Chamie, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, New York, N.Y. 10017, tel.:  212 963-3921, fax.: 212 963-2147.

World Population to 2300 (Sales No. E.04.XIII.11, ISBN 92-1-151401-0) is available from United Nations Publications, Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-853, Dept. PRES, New York, N.Y. 10017 - USA; tel.:  800 253-9646 or  212 963-3489, e-mail:; or Section des Ventes et Commercialisation, Bureau E-4, CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland, tel.:  41 22 917-2614, fax:  41 22 917-0027, e-mail:; internet:

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For information media. Not an official record.