why the world’s population should stagnate by the end of the century

In just over 70 years, the world’s population has more than tripled. If ne was 2.5 billion in 1950, on Tuesday, November 15, we crossed the 8 billion human mark. The symbolic threshold determined by the UN forecast was announced on the occasion of World Population Day in mid-July. Something that will make you dizzy. Because according to United Nations estimates, the Earth’s population should be approximately 9.7 billion in 2050, and approximately 10.4 billion in 2080.

Later ? Experts expect a hiatus until about 2100, when demographers expect even stagnation or the beginning of an inflection. But if the infinite growth of the world’s population can be imagined, at least mathematically, how can this ceiling be explained?

The number of children per woman is decreasing

For Gilles Pison, a researcher at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), the fact that the world’s population will peak towards the end of the century before potentially stagnating is the result of trends already well known to experts. “The demographer does not know how to predict catastrophes or sudden changes. He has extended today’s trendshe explains. And we see that population growth continues, but at a slower rate than it has been for 60 years.

In demography, fertility corresponds to the average number of children per woman of childbearing age. However, this rate is falling around the world, he explains. “This is a movement from yesterday.”

“Voluntary limitation of the number of children appeared two centuries ago, first in Europe and North America, and spread to all continents.”

Gilles Pison, demographer

On the Franceinfo website

Today, Europeans and North Americans have an average of 1.5 children each, compared to 1.9 in Asia and 1.8 in Latin America. “If a woman in Africa has an average of four children, there, too, productivity declines. he continues. Voluntary birth control must eventually become general there as elsewhere. he notes that there is a decline in this “It’s happening at a much longer rate than was seen in Latin America or Asia 40 years ago.”

Although a number of developed countries have seen sharp declines in productivity, expected population growth in the coming decades will be concentrated in eight countries, five in Africa and three in Asia: more than half in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the UN. , Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Pakistan, India and the Philippines.

“Now there are internal forces specific to each region of the world that limit reproduction,” Demographer Christophe Z Guilmoto, a researcher at the Institute for Development Studies at the Center for Human Sciences in New Delhi, India, explained in an interview with the US in July. JDD. no matter what “In many countries, women have a maximum of two children. This is a far cry from the endless growth we were worried about in the 1960s.”

Decreased mortality is associated with slower progression

As fertility declines, demographers consider the average increase in life expectancy associated with a decrease in mortality. These are two factors “demographic transition”. And there too, “All the countries of the world know or know this,” Starting with Europeans and North Americans, Gilles Pison emphasizes. In Asia and Latin America, the demographic transition started later but was faster, he says. “These continents have benefited from advances in hygiene as well as medicine.” the demographer continues.

Finally, in Africa, the last continent to initiate these changes, “Mortality has come down a lot – even at the highest levels – but the changes have been rapid.” Worldwide, “I‘the average life expectancy has increased from 64.8 years in the early 1990s to 70 years today’, The UN noted when it released its figures this summer.

Should we see a ceiling? In 2008, a demographer published an article in Slate on the subject: if the already low infant and maternal mortality rates can be significantly reduced, “Virtually no effect on life expectancy”he wrote. “This can only be progressed by progress in the fight against adult mortality, particularly at older ages, where deaths are increasingly concentrated.” However, while the limits set in recent decades have been exceeded, successes in this field are now the result of slow scientific and medical progress (as in the fight against cancer or degenerative diseases).

Changing lifestyles to respect the planet’s resources

A United Nations projection of a population of 10.4 billion by the end of this century exists alongside other scenarios: the United Nations estimates that the population in 2100 is 95% likely. 8.9 and 12.4 billion, explains Gilles Pison. the highest fork, “very unlikely”it even climbs to 15 billion people.

The demographer emphasizes that regardless of the scenario, available resources should be distributed equally and fairly. To those who fear the planet we will be on “many”he replies that the problem is not numbers, but our consumption patterns.

“It’s not a question of demography. If there were only one billion of us on Earth and we lived like the inhabitants of the Nordic countries, then it would be unbearable.”

Gilles Pison, demographer

On the Franceinfo website

“It is a minority that is responsible for most of the global warming, so it is clear that the issue is not the number of people, but the way they live. It is an illusion to think that we can reverse evolution. By 2050, lifestyles must be more respectful of the environment and biodiversity.”

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