For the first time in centuries, the world’s population is on its way to a decline in a few decades. Presently, there are about 7.8 billion people in this world and the number is expected to peak in 2064.
According to a new study published in The Lancet, the peak will be at roughly 9.7 billion and will drop to 8.8 billion by 2100.
Lead study author and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Stein Emil Vollset, told IFLScience,
“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.”
The report also mentioned that the population of up to 23 countries could shrink more than half. The countries are – Japan, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and South Korea. Even China, the world’s most populated country could fall from 1.4 billion people in 2017 to 732 million in 2100.
“There are two key factors: improvements in access to modern contraception and the education of girls and women,” said Vollset.
“These factors drive the fertility rate – the average number of children a woman delivers over her lifetime which is the largest determinant of population. The global total fertility rate is predicted to steadily decline, from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate (2.1 live births per woman) considered necessary to maintain population numbers,” he added.
Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, said in a statement:
“The 21st century will see a revolution in the story of our human civilization. Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence. By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the US the dominant powers. This will truly be a new world, one we should be preparing for today.”