What are the most significant implications of these dynamics for international development, as currently articulated in the most up-to-date literature?
The following summary is taken from the Key Findings of the 2015 Revision of the UN Population Division’s World Population Prospects (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, 2015) and is purely to provide an overview of future population change. The global development challenges of future population change are broad and a comprehensive review is beyond the scope of this pilot learning journey. This report instead focusses on the areas highlighted by DFID at this stage of the journey with the addition of addressing the fertility challenge.
In July 2015, the world population reached 7.3 billion people. This is an increase of one billion since 2003 and two billion since 1990. The world population continues to grow though more slowly than in the past. Ten years ago, world population was growing by 1.24 percent per year. In 2015, it is growing by 1.18 percent per year. 50.4 percent of the world was male and 49.6 percent was female. The median age of the global population was 29.6 years. Twenty-six percent were under the age 15, 62 percent 15-59 years and 12 percent 60 years or over. Sixty per cent of the global population lives in Asia (4.4 billion), 16 per cent in Africa (1.2 billion), 10 per cent in Europe (738 million), 9 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean (634 million), and the remaining 5 per cent in Northern America (358 million) and Oceania (39 million) (Figure 1). China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 percent of the world’s population, respectively.
Africa is the fastest-growing major area with more than half of global population growth between 2015 and 2050 expected to occur here (1.3 billion additional people). Between 2015 and 2050, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double. By 2050, Africa’s share of the global population is expected to increase to 25 percent and will be the only major area still experiencing substantial population growth. Asia is projected to be the second largest contributor to future global population growth, adding 0.9 billon people between 2015 and 2050. The medium variant projection assumes that fertility will fall from 4.7 children per women in 2010- 2015 to 3.1 in 2045-2050. Population growth remains especially high in the group of 48 countries designated as the least developed countries, of which 27 are in Africa. Amongst the ten largest countries in the world, Nigeria’s population (currently the seventh largest in the world) is growing the most rapidly. By 2050, Nigeria is expected to become the third largest country in the world.