A UN report shows that the global population will surge past 10 billion by the year 2100 if current fertility rates continue at the expected levels.
The 2010 Revision of World Population Pospects, prepared by the Population Division at the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), says African countries will be responsible for most of the population growth with the number of people being born in sub-Saharan countries rising from today’s 1 billion to 3.6 billion in this century.
The report also warns that a small variation in fertility will lead to long-term differences in the size of the global population, which is expected to pass 7 billion in late October, only a dozen years after it surpassed 6 billion.
Demographers believe the so-called population explosion will not be solved in the 21st century.
“Every billion more people makes life more difficult for everybody – it’s as simple as that,” said John Bongaarts, a demographer at the Population Council research group in New York.
One of the reasons for the upward population surge is that the birth rate is not declining as rapidly as expected in some poor countries and has slightly risen in some developed countries, such as the US, Denmark, and Britain.
High immigration and higher birth rates among Hispanic immigrants has made the United States one of the fastest-growing countries and the new report projects that the country’s population will reach 478 million by 2100.
According to director of the UN population division Hania Zlotnik, population growth in many low-fertility or intermediate-fertility countries such as China and Russia will peak before the end of the century.
Life expectancy is also expected to rise in many countries especially as better AIDS treatments cut early deaths in numerous sub-Saharan states. Fertility rates for women, therefore, need to fall faster to curb population growth in these countries.
Women’s lack of power in their relationships with men, and traditions such as early marriage and polygamy have slowed change in Africa, The Boston Globe, reported.
While about three-quarters of married American women use a modern contraceptive during their child-bearing years, the comparable proportions are one-quarter of women in East Africa, 1 in 10 in West Africa, and a mere 7 percent in Central Africa, UN statistics show.
“West and Central Africa are the two big regions of the world where the fertility transition is happening, but at a snail’s pace,” said World Bank demographer John F. May.