World population could peak at 8.5 billion by 2040
Sylvie Claire / March 28, 2023
According to a new forecast by the Earth4All project, the world's population will peak at 8.5 billion as early as 2040 and decline by 2 billion by the end of the century.
That's 40 years earlier than the United Nations (UN) forecast. According to Earth4All, however, this faster decline would require a "giant leap" in investment in economic development, education and health.
Since the middle of the 20th century, the world has experienced massive population growth: between 1950 and 2020, the world's population is estimated to have tripled, according to United Nations figures. While this growth has generally slowed for some time, this is not the case in all regions.
Researchers from the Earth4All initiative released a report Monday in which they outline two possible scenarios for the future. In the first, the world continues to develop economically as it has over the past 50 years. The population would then peak at 8.6 billion around 2046 and shrink to 7.3 billion by 2100. In the second scenario, this peak could be reached ten years earlier, provided that greater attention is paid to poverty reduction and gender equality. In this case, the Earth would have only 6 billion inhabitants in 2100.
Earth4All experts believe that other population projections often underestimate the importance of rapid economic development. "We know that rapid economic development in low-income countries has a significant impact on fertility rates," said Per Espen Stoknes, director of Earth4All. "Fertility rates decline when girls have access to education and women are economically empowered and have access to better health care. »
Catherina Hinz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, doubts the feasibility of a peak in 2040. "Even if we invest today in the necessary areas, it will take time to change fertility rates worldwide.