Population change – Outlook from UN DESA

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-48-en
Also known as: Outlook 042
Created 26 Mar 2015 Published 13 May 2015 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
The world’s population increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around 7 billion in 2010, and is expected to continue to rise until 2050/2100 under most UN projection variants. Assuming the ‘medium fertility’ projection variant, global population might increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, rising to 10.9 billion by 2100. However, if fertility and mortality rates stay at current levels (i.e. assuming the ‘no change’ projection variant), growth rates would be substantially higher, and the global population could rise to 10.2 billion by 2050 and 19.9 billion by 2100. Expected global population growth is projected to be largely driven by increases in Asia and particularly in Africa. While the Asian population is expected to peak by 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow strongly and continuously, from about 1 billion today to more than 4 billion by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The total population of the 28 EU Member States is projected to slightly increase from the current figure of 505 million to 520 million by 2030, and then to decrease in the subsequent decades to some 475 million by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The age structure is projected to change substantially, with an increase of the share of people aged 65 years or older from the current figure of 17% to over 30% by 2050, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.

Key messages

The world’s population increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around 7 billion in 2010, and is expected to continue to rise until 2050/2100 under most UN projection variants. Assuming the ‘medium fertility’ projection variant, global population might increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, rising to 10.9 billion by 2100. However, if fertility and mortality rates stay at current levels (i.e. assuming the ‘no change’ projection variant), growth rates would be substantially higher, and the global population could rise to 10.2 billion by 2050 and 19.9 billion by 2100.

Expected global population growth is projected to be largely driven by increases in Asia and particularly in Africa. While the Asian population is expected to peak by 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow strongly and continuously, from about 1 billion today to more than 4 billion by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.

The total population of the 28 EU Member States is projected to slightly increase from the current figure of 505 million to 520 million by 2030, and then to decrease in the subsequent decades to some 475 million by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The age structure is projected to change substantially, with an increase of the share of people aged 65 years or older from the current figure of 17% to over 30% by 2050, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.

What are the main population trends globally and within specific world regions?

Historic and projected global population

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Interval high-low fertility
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Historic and projected population by world region

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Historic and projected EU-28 population

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Interval high-low fertility
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Table