World population growth ‘has been declining for 70 years’, analyzes demographer Jill Besson

There are more and more of us on this planet every day. The United Nations has just published its new report on the evolution of the world’s population: by November 15, the limit of 8 billion people on Earth will be exceeded, that is, one billion more people than it was in 2010. However, these figures should not hide the fact that “Population growth has been slowing down continuously for 70 years”explains Gilles Besson, professor at the National Museum of Natural History and scientific advisor to the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED).

franceinfo: There will be 8 billion people by November… Is there room for everyone?

Jill Besson: We were already asking ourselves the question when we were just a billion people on this planet. It was two centuries ago, it’s a frequent question. The observation is that we counted more and more. But population growth has been slowing for 70 years. The population is growing at a rate of 1% annually and the rate is expected to continue declining in the coming decades. The United Nations expects 10.5 billion people to settle on Earth in the 1980s, because humans chose to have few children. This is true everywhere, in more and more places on the planet. The main result is stabilization, zero long-term population growth, and possibly even decline.

“In two-thirds of the world’s countries, couples now have fewer than two children on average.”

Jill Besson, demographer

in franceinfo

The United Nations also calculated that Covid-19 caused 14.9 million deaths. Will this bring about demographic changes in the future?

No nothing. This does not change trends in any way, it represents a 12% increase in deaths for 2020 and 2021 alone. The assumption is that Covid-19 has had a temporary effect and that as of 2022, life expectancy returns to prior levels and trends epidemic. This is what we often observe, and therefore very little will change the announced numbers for the coming decades.

Soon they will outnumber the Indochinese. Is it a source of trouble?

There it was also announced. Even if a revision of the figures by the United Nations means that the date of India’s overrun of China has been brought forward. We knew it would happen before 2030, but now we know it will be next year. And this is not due to the faster growth of India, which follows its developments. This is because the numbers for China have been seriously revised downwards due to the observation that Chinese men and women are having fewer children, far fewer than we would have imagined. This is despite the Chinese government’s reproductive policy that wants to support the birth rate. This is one of the main lessons of these predictions: China will experience a decline in its population in the coming decades. The country has reached its peak and may lose nearly half of its population in number by the year 2100.

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