The world’s population has grown by 74 million people for a total of 7.8 billion this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
China remains the most populous country in the world with 1.4 billion people, although it is only slightly ahead of India with 1.38 billion, which is expected to overtake it by 2025.
The United States is third with 332 million, followed by Indonesia with 275 million and Pakistan with 238 million.
Figures for 2021 mean the global growth rate is 0.9%, lower than forecast of 0.96% and occurring amid the Covid pandemic.
The world’s population grew from 78 million to 7.8 billion in 2021, in line with projections (left) – but the growth rate has fallen to 0.9%, meaning it has been declining since the 1960s (to the right)
India was the second most populous country in the world in 2021, according to data from the US Census Bureau, and is expected to overtake China as the most populous country by 2025
While the world’s populations continue to increase overall, the rate of increase has declined more or less steadily since the mid-1960s, when it peaked at around 2%, with the world’s population expected to peak before 2100, after which it will decline.
Half of the world’s population already lives in countries where lifetime fertility – the number of children a woman is expected to give birth on average in her lifetime – has fallen below 2, which means that the population will decrease overall.
According to UN data, the world’s population will continue to grow until 2100, but growth will be concentrated in fewer and fewer places.
More than half of the population growth over the next three decades is expected to be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania and the United States.
Meanwhile, 55 countries are expected to see their populations decline by one percent or more over the same period.
The most dramatic falls, according to UN data, will occur in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine – where populations are expected to drop by 20%.
These trends will be driven by declining fertility rates as well as net emigration, the UN predicts.
This means that an increasing number of countries will have to deal with an aging population, in which the burden of caring for an increasing number of older people will fall on a shrinking number of working-age people.
China remains the most populous country in the world but its growth rate is slowing rapidly – a trend that has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic
The global tipping point at which the world’s population over 65 will outnumber the total number of young people aged 15 to 24, according to the UN.
After 2100, if the projections hold true, the world’s population will enter the first period of sustained decline in recorded history.
But other studies have been less optimistic. A recent study published by The Lancet estimated that the peak will occur in 2064 – almost four decades earlier.
Global populations will reach 9.7 billion that year, the Lancet study suggested, before falling to around 8.8 billion by 2100.
This means that, far from the overcrowded future imagined by science fiction novels and movies, humanity may actually be heading towards a future where abandoned buildings, towns and even towns are the norm as their population. will disappear.
The Lancet study predicted that the hardest hit countries will be Japan and Italy, both of which could see their populations more than halved before 2100.
Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea are also expected to see a reduction of around 50%.
Even China, known for its rapidly expanding population in the 20th century, could see its population nearly halved by the end of the 21st.
The UK is expected to peak at 75 million in 2063 and drop to 71 million in 2100.