NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.N. Population Projections Questioned

March 27, 1997

Some demographers say the United Nation's world population statistics just don't add up. Specifically, they are questioning projects that put the world population total at 9.4 billion by 2050 -- a 62 percent increase above what it is today.

Here are some of their objections:

  • With birth rates and fertility rates in many areas around the world having fallen to their lowest levels in decades, the U. N. may be projecting as many as 3 billion extra people on the planet at the middle of the next century.
  • Although it takes 2.1 children per woman simply to maintain a stable population over time, fertility rates in Europe are now at an incredibly low 1.45 children per woman -- a decline of 21 percent just in the last decade.
  • Japan's rate is 1.5 and the Italian rate is 1.2 -- said to be the lowest rate in the history of the world.
  • The U. S. rate has declined in each of the last six years -- to an estimated 1.98.

In the last 30 years, the aggregate rate in the less developed countries has plunged from 6.0 to 3.1 children per woman -- with the most dramatic drop occurring since 1990.

With a current world population of about 5.8 billion, the U. N. is also predicting that figure will climb to 10.7 billion just after the year 2200 -- an increase of 84 percent.

With fertility rates falling so dramatically now, demographers admit themselves baffled by the U.N.'s off-the-wall increases.

Source: Ben Wattenberg, "Population Data that Doesn't Compute," Washington Times, March 27, 1997.


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