Over the next few decades, for the first time in centuries, the world’s population is expected to decline.
Currently, the world’s population stands at around 7.8 billion people, but experts believe that number will peak in 2064, before dropping.
In a groundbreaking study published by The Lancet, Earth’s population will peak at around 9.7 billion and by 2100, will drop to 8.8 billion.
Lead author of the study and professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Stein Emil Vollset, explained the findings.
Vollset said IFLScience: âThe last time the world population declined was in the middle of the 14th century, because of the Black Death.
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âIf our predictions are correct, this will be the first time that the population decline has been caused by a decline in fertility, as opposed to events such as a pandemic or famine. “
Remarkably, the study also found that the population of specific countries could decrease by up to 50 percent – included in this category are countries such as Italy, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Thailand. and Japan.
Vollset explained that this is largely due to increased access to contraception and gender equality.
He said: âThere are two key factors: improving access to modern contraception and educating girls and women.
âThese factors determine the fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth in her lifetime, which is the biggest determinant of population.
“The total global fertility rate is expected to decline steadily, from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate (2.1 live births per woman) considered necessary to maintain the figures for population. “