How many people are there in the world? How many die each year and how many babies are born?
These are key questions we need to understand the world around us. The world population dataset is one of our largest in Our world in data: it underpins almost every topic we cover.
The UN publishes an update of its World Population Prospects every two years. Its last release was scheduled for 2021 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But today, on World Population Day, the long-awaited dataset was released.
In this article, we highlight some of the key findings from the twenty-seventh publication of World Population Prospects.
With early access to this new UN data, we have also released a new Population and Demography Data Explorerwhere you can explore this comprehensive dataset in detail, for any country in the world.
World population will exceed 8 billion by the end of 2022
Since 1975, the world has added a billion more people every 12 years.
It passed its last milestone – 7 billion in 2011. And, at the end of 2022, it will pass another: there will be 8 billion people in the world.
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While this rate of absolute growth is similar to previous decades, growth assess keep falling. Since 2019, the world population growth rate has fallen below 1%.
This is less than half of its peak growth rate – 2.3% – in the 1960s.
As global fertility rates continue to decline (see below), this rate will continue to decline.
The UN estimates that about 15 million additional deaths in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on global population and migration trends.
We know that the confirmed number of deaths from COVID-19 is likely to significantly underestimate the true number of deaths due to limited testing. One way to get a better estimate of the total impact of the pandemic on mortality is to look at excess mortality data. We can look at the total number of deaths and compare it to the number we expect in a non-pandemic year.
In its latest set of demographic data, the UN estimates that in 2020 there were around 5 million additional deaths. In 2021, this figure was 10 million.
This estimate of 15 million additional deaths over 2020 and 2021 is in line with estimates from other organisations. The Economist put its central estimate of excess deaths at 17.6 million. The World Health Organization, which is a United Nations organization, estimates the number of additional deaths at 14.9 million.
These death figures are highly uncertain. But what is clear is that the number of confirmed deaths – which stood at just 5.4 million at the end of 2021 – represents only a fraction of the true impact of the pandemic.
World population expected to peak at around 10.4 billion in 2086
The world’s population has grown rapidly over the past century. When will it end?
Previous versions of the United Nations World Population Prospects have shown a significant slowdown in population growth, with very slow growth – almost reaching a plateau – by the end of the century. In its previous version, it predicted that the world population would be around 10.88 billion in 2100, and would not have peaked yet.
In this new version, the UN predicts that the world’s population will peak before the end of the century – in 2086 at just over 10.4 billion people.1
There are several reasons for this earlier and lower peak. The first is that the UN expects fertility rates to fall faster in low-income countries compared to previous revisions. He also expects a lesser “rebound” in fertility rates in high-income countries during the second half of the century.
The global fertility rate continued to decline to 2.3 births per woman
A key determinant of the world’s population rate is the average number of children women have in their lifetime – the “fertility rate”.
Fertility rates have fallen rapidly around the world in recent decades. In 1950, the average woman gave birth about 5 times. Since then, fertility rates have more than halved. In 2021, this overall figure was 2.3 births per woman.
If you switch to the Map tab of the interactive chart, you can see that most of the world’s people now live in countries where fertility rates are at – or below – “replacement level”. This is the level at which populations would stabilize or decline in the long term. The UN reports that two-thirds of the population live in countries where the fertility rate is below 2.1 births per woman. In some high-income countries like South Korea, Japan, Spain or Italy, it is as low as 1.3 births per woman.
Next year, India is set to take over from China as the world’s most populous country
China has been the most populous country in the world for decades. It is now home to more than 1.4 billion people. However, its population growth rate dropped significantly following a rapid drop in its fertility rate during the 1970s and 1980s.
India’s fertility rate has also dropped dramatically over the past few decades, from 5.7 births per woman in 1950 to just 2 births per woman today. However, the pace of this decline has been slower.
Because of this, India will very soon overtake China as the most populous country in the world. The UN expects this to happen in 2023.
Republished with permission from Our World In Data under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.