World population could reach 9 billion in 2050

A new projection estimates that the world’s population could peak at 9 billion people by mid-century, significantly lower than the latest leading population estimates, including those from the United Nations.

The study goes further and affirms that if the world takes a “giant leap” in investment in economic developmenteducation and health, the world population could reach a maximum of 8.5 billion people in 2050.

The new projections are included in a study of the initiative earth4all for the Global Challenges Foundation.

to do these projectionsthe team used a new system dynamics model with two scenarios in this century.

In the first, “Too little, too late”, the world continues to develop economically as it has in the last 50 years and many of the poorest countries are lifted out of extreme poverty.

In this scenario, the researchers calculate that the world population it could peak at 8.6 billion in 2050, before falling to 7 billion in 2100.

In the second scenario, dubbed “the Giant Leap,” the researchers estimate that the population peaks at 8.5 billion people around 2040 and declines to about 6 billion by the end of the century.

But that can only be achieved “through an unprecedented investment” in the poverty alleviation -particularly in education and health- along with an extraordinary shift in policies for food and energy security, inequality and gender equality.

In this scenario, extreme poverty disappears in a generation (by 2060), with a marked impact on the world demographic trends.

The authors believe that it differs from other major demographic projections in that they tend to downplay rapid economic development.

“We know that the rapid economic development of low-income countries has a huge impact on the fertility rates. Fertility rates drop as girls gain access to education and women become economically empowered and have access to better healthcare,” says Per Espen Stoknes, project manager earth4all and director of the Center for Sustainability at the Norwegian Business School.

“Few prominent models simultaneously simulate the population growtheconomic development and their connections”, adds Beniamino Callegari, a member of the Earth4All modeling team.

The analysis uses ten world regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, China, and the United States.

Currently, population growth is higher in some nations in Africa, such as Angola, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria, and in Asia, such as Afghanistan.

“If we assume that these countries adopt sound economic development policies, we can expect the population to peak sooner rather than later,” Callegari reasons.

The team also looked at the connection between population and the overreach of planetary boundaries, linked to Earth’s carrying capacity.

Contrary to popular myths, the team discovered that the population size It is not the main driver of overcoming planetary boundaries, like the climate crisis, but rather what is destabilizing the planet is the sky-high footprint levels of the world’s richest 10%.

“The main problem of humanity is the luxury carbon consumption and biosphere, not population. The places where the population is increasing the fastest have extremely small environmental footprints per person compared to places that peaked in population many decades ago,” said Jorgen Randers of earth4all.

According to the team’s demographic projections, the entire population could achieve living conditions above the minimum level of the United Nations without significant changes to current development trends, as long as resources were distributed equally.

The research also concludes that, at current population levels, it is possible for everyone to escape extreme poverty and exceed a minimum threshold for a dignified life with access to food, shelter, energy and other resources, although this requires a (much more) equitable distribution of resources.

“A good life for all is only possible if the extreme use of resources by the wealthy elite”, concludes Randers.