NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Global Population Growth In The 21st Century

June 22, 2000

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, global population increases by almost 80 million people per year -- about 10 times the average annual increment in the 19th century.

As we enter the 21th century, global population continues to increase, but the rate of growth appears to be in decline. In fact, plunging death rates not soaring birth rates are the main reason for the rapid population increases over the last century, says Nicholas Eberstadt of American Enterprise Institute.

  • The world population has risen from 1.65 billion in 1900 to 6.08 billion in 2000.
  • Average life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900 -- from 30 to 63 years.
  • The world population growth rate peaked in the 1960s at 2.2 percent per year and has now dropped to 1.3 percent per year.
  • The United Nations Population Division projects that world population will peak in 2040 at 7.47 billion and then begin to decline.

The decrease in population growth rate is due to reductions in family size brought about by prospective parents' deliberate birth control practices. This global fertility trend is predicted to affect the rate of population growth over the next few decades.

If the past generation's global fertility decline continues for another generation -- heading toward zero, or even negative, population growth, the population issues of the future will look very different from the concerns of the past several decades.

Source: Nicholas Eberstadt (American Enterprise Institute), "World Population Prospects for the Twenty-First Century," in Earth Report 200, Ronald Bailey (Competitive Enterprise Institute), ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000).


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