Opinion

Be Prepared for a World of 7 Billion

20 October 2011
Author: UNFPA

Turmoil in the world’s financial markets understandably worries Western investors more than the news that the global population is set to top seven billion. Yet the significance of this milestone cannot be ignored. The implications of a world with another billion citizens – the six-billion mark was passed only 13 years ago – are both challenging and complex.

The parts of the world that account for less than one fifth of global economic output will see 73 per cent of the world’s expected population increase by 2050. This includes Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan. This means that, in the absence of vigorous economic growth in the periphery of the world economy, an even larger number of people will be faced with inadequate nutrition, poor housing and a lack of access to healthcare, education, water and energy. The challenges this presents will not be restricted to the developing world, as rising inequality, aggravated by the likely consequences of climate change, is likely to lead to a rise in forced migration, potentially fanning regional tensions and increasing threats to global security.

Optimists note that population growth in developing countries, such as Brazil, has slowed significantly as their economies have grown. A “demographic bonus” has also been created in those developing economies with large populations in the economically active 15-64 age group.

Read the full article as published in the Financial Times

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