NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Coming Population Shift

May 27, 1999

The world's population is expected to hit six billion by the end of this year -- only 12 years after hitting five billion. Moreover, in a new report, the Population Reference Bureau predicts explosive growth in poor countries in the next century and falling numbers in the leading industrialized nations.

  • Africa -- with 13 percent of the world's population at present -- is expected to experience 34 percent of the world's population growth over the next 50 years.
  • India and China combined are expected to account for another 25 percent of the increase.
  • Women in Niger, Oman and Ethiopia are now bearing on average seven or more children each.
  • Those in Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain, the Czech Republic and Italy are giving birth on average to only 1.09 to 1.19 children each.

The U.S. fertility rate is now 2.03 -- just below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Fertility rates for the world's more developed countries are at 1.5 children per woman, compared to 3.8 children for the non- developed world, excluding China. In sub-Saharan Africa it averages 5.8 children.

World population was less than two billion at about 1900. Since then the population of the more developed countries has about doubled. Overall, world population grew by 4.4 billion during this century -- compared to just 600,000 million in the 19th Century.

Source: David R. Sands, "Study Points to a Major Global Population Shift," Washington Times, May 27, 1999.


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