Population & Demographics

Annual world population since 10 thousand bce for owid

2019 revision – world population growth 1700 2100











https://newint.org/  2020  HITTING THE POPULATION BRAKES – Popular wisdom has it that everything is speeding up, including population growth. Danny Dorling shows just how wrong that is – and argues that we are actually in a time of slowdown. A tour of future population prospects for key hotspots

The World’s 7.5 Billion People, in One Chart

wired.com  2019  The World Might Actually Run Out of People – The United Nations predicts that the global population will soon explode. In Empty Planet, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue they’re dead wrong.

“YOU KNOW THE story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burningplastic-pollutingcalorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario. Such dire population predictions aren’t the stuff of sci-fi; those numbers come from one of the most trusted world authorities, the United Nations.  But what if they’re wrong? Not like, off by a rounding error, but like totally, completely goofed?

That’s the conclusion Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker come to in their newest book, Empty Planet, due out February 5th. After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”  But Empty Planet is not a book about statistics so much as it is about what’s driving the choices people are making during the fastest period of change in human history. …”…

thenewsminute.comI  4/10/2021  India witnesses decline in population growth rate and fertility across religious groups – The study from the Pew Research Centre, titled ‘Religious Composition of India’ confirms that India’s fertility is declining rapidly in recent decades, say Poonam Muttreja, Alok Vajpeyi

irishtimes.com   24/7/2021 The global population will soon fall, and this will change the world
Falling populations in Europe, America and Asia will make Africa an economic superpower David McWilliams

theguardian.com 7/2021 Why we should embrace population decline – Falling birth rates are no cause for alarm, writes Robin Maynard, while Diane Woodley is concerned about attitudes towards older people

Laura Spinney (Why declining birth rates are good news for life on Earth, 8 July) provides a much-needed deconstruction of the “birth dearth” alarmist angst predicting economic and societal collapse as people across the world choose smaller families – a choice still denied, incidentally, to the 270 million women globally with an unmet need for modern family planning.

The mainstream economists and business interests ringing that alarm are preoccupied by GDP figures and profit, not human wellbeing. They certainly have scant regard for the consequences to our planet. More babies just means more cheap labour and more consumers for their products.

moneyweek.com   25/5/2021  Why an ageing population is not necessarily the disaster many people think it is  by  Merryn Somerset Webb

… “The problems, says the pessimists, are threefold: without more young people to support the old the dependency ratio will rise to unsustainable levels; without young people we will lose our creative mojo; and finally, without young people, demand will fall and we will end up in a spiral of long-term deflation. Older people are replacers of goods, not active buyers – the more of them we have, the more overall demand will fall. Sounds awful doesn’t it? …

So there you have it: we’ve got used to the idea that baby busts and the ageing populations they come with are a bad thing; they might not be. The obvious costs are high (health and social care) but the benefits are much overlooked. …”

nytimes.com   5 2021  Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications – by Damien Cave, Emma Bubola, Choe Sang-Hun

… “All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore. …    By the end of the century, Nigeria could surpass China in population; across sub-Saharan Africa, families are still having four or five children. But nearly everywhere else, the era of high fertility is ending. ….

And almost everywhere, older people are being asked to keep working. Germany, which previously raised its retirement age to 67, is now considering a bump to 69.  Going further than many other nations, Germany has also worked through a program of urban contraction: Demolitions have removed around 330,000 units from the housing stock since 2002.  And if the goal is revival, a few green shoots can be found. After expanding access to affordable child care and paid parental leave, Germany’s fertility rate recently increased to 1.54, up from 1.3 in 2006. Leipzig, which once was shrinking, is now growing again after reducing its housing stock and making itself more attractive with its smaller scale. …

“Growth is a challenge, as is decline,” said Swiaczny, who is now a senior research fellow at the Federal Institute for Population Research in Germany. …” …                                           read more here

cdn.odi.org. pdf  1994  More People, Less Erosion  Mary Tiffen, Michael Mortimore, Francis Gichuki

“More People, Less Erosion, is a groundbreaking book, first published in 1994, and is based on a series of studies by ODI and the University of Nairobi on land management in eastern Kenya. The challenges facing sustainable development in Africa are usually framed around the triad of rapid population growth, the intensification of agricultural production, and the maintenance of the natural resource base, including soil, water and forests.  This book, however, demonstraties just how dynamic agricultural change can be in Africa, and draws a very positive picture of the ways in which smallholder farmers adapt to changes in land availability, agricultural output and labour markets, technological options and institutional innovations, and their ability to invest in the agricultural resource base.  pdf here

theatlantic.com  7/2019  What Happens When the World’s Population Stops Growing?


Chinese consumers use resources at less than half the rate of Americans (3.6 gha) and much of their resource extraction is used to make products for American consumption. But with a population of 1.4 billion, their total consumption is much greater overall.

The same over-consuming pattern is evident in greenhouse gas emissions on a national basis — a few countries account for the overwhelming majority of annual CO2 emissions. These emissions contribute to climate change, which further degrades the Earth’s ability to support life.

Who emits the most CO2?

sciencedirect.com   2020   The social and environmental influences of population growth rate and demographic pressure deserve greater attention in ecological economics    Jane N O’Sullivan

… papers discussing the relevance of population growth and the prospects for minimising it are rare in the literature on ecological economics. Even these papers treat population almost exclusively as an issue relating to the scale of human activity. The many ways in which population growth rate and local demographic pressures drive negative social and environmental trends remain largely unarticulated. The mistaken belief that action to reduce population growth requires involuntary control of people’s reproduction has fostered a taboo on the topic and deterred analysis of demographic influences on issues such as inequality, unemployment, debt, social cohesion and conflict. This paper discusses how some of these influences relate to ecological economics discourses on natural resources, labour, capital and governance. It argues that population stabilisation is not only ultimately required for a steady state economy, but can be a powerful lever in a virtuous cycle of effects diminishing resource consumption and environmental impacts, reversing income inequality and undermining the leverage enjoyed by capital over labour. A richer, more integrated treatment of population dynamics would greatly enhance the ecological economics research agenda in the coming decades.

newgeography.com  16/03/2021   DECLINING FERTILITY RATES MAY DELIVER US TO OBLIVION   by Joel Kotkin

For much of the last half-century we have been living, even cowering, under the threat posed by what Paul Ehrlich in 1968 called the “population bomb.” In Ehrlich’s scenario, widely adopted by the environmental movement and its corporate supporters, ever-increasing numbers would overwhelm the resource base and the food supply and would cause dystopian mayhem across the planet.   Yet it turns out that the “explosion” is heading toward an implosion, as data reported by the World Bank indicates. Rather than being doomed by a surfeit of humans we may be experiencing, certainly in the West and in East Asia, dangerously low fertility rates that threaten to slow world economic growth and innovation. This also reflects a dangerous shift in civilizational values, with more focus on the self and abstractions and less on the basic relations upon which all civilizations have been built. Conversely when fertility rates drop—for example in imperial Rome, renaissance Venice and early modern Amsterdam—it’s a sure signal of societal decline.

read at source FT weekend


frankdiana.net     “Beginning in 1990, several forces converged to shape the global economy. Globalization, demographics, technology, deflation, debt, and interest rates have all played a role. Now, according to a recent book, at least two of those forces are reversing. In The Great Demographic Reversal, authors Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan describe these forces and their influence on the last thirty years of economic activity. With this convergence, the world experienced an extended deflationary period, which per the authors, was driven in part by a labor supply shock.

With this positive supply shock came a weakening of labor’s bargaining power and a downward pressure on wages. Now, the authors believe that both globalization and demographics will reverse. The massive pool of labor that came from China and Eastern Europe is succumbing to an aging society (Japan is the poster child). That same aging dynamic will reduce the working age population. As this reversal accelerates, deflationary forces that caused inflation to remain at or below Central Bank inflation targets reverse as well. The conclusion (a hotly debated one) per the authors is that the future is one of:

A fall in working age population
An aging society that struggles with the ravages of dementia
Declining growth of real output
An increase in labor’s bargaining power
Possible interest rate increases
Increased health expenses
A reduction in inequality

ecowatch.com    01/09/2020   How Would Population Decline Impact the Environment?   By Ajit Niranjan

Shortly before he shot dead 22 mostly Hispanic people in El Paso, Texas, a little over a year ago, a white supremacist wrote in his online manifesto: “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” He was inspired by a terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, who five months earlier had killed 51 Muslim worshippers in attacks on two mosques and identified as an “eco-fascist.”

Neither the fears nor the actions of the two men are grounded in science.

Fertility is falling, people are aging, and by the end of the century humans will be shrinking in number on almost every country on Earth, according to a recent study published in the journal Lancet. Far from an overpopulation crisis, demographers are asking where the next generations of young people will come from.

The study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects the number of people on the planet will peak just four decades from now, at 9.7 billion, before falling to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.

theconversation.com    2019  Climate explained: how growth in population and consumption drives planetary change    by Paul Keaveny

The growth of the human population over the last 70 years has exploded from 2 billion to nearly 8 billion, with a compounding net growth of over 30,000 per day. We all breathe out carbon dioxide with every breath. That equates to about 140 billion CO₂ breaths every minute. Isn’t it logical that atmospheric carbon will continue to increase with the birth rate regardless of what we do about fossil fuel reduction?

https://theconversation.com   2019  Stabilising the global population is not a solution to the climate emergency – but we should do it anyway    by Mark Maslin

theatlantic.com   2019    What Happens When the World’s Population Stops Growing?         by JOE PINSKER
Africa will be the most populous continent. Islam will be the most popular religion. And there are going to be a lot more old people.

For most of the time that humans have existed, our ranks have grown really, really slowly. There were an estimated 4 million people on Earth in 10,000 b.c., and after the following 10 millennia, the planetwide population had only reached 190 million. Even in 1800, the total number of humans was still under 1 billion. The climb since then—made possible by advances in medicine, sanitation, and food production—has been astounding. By 1900, there were 1.65 billion people; by 2000, there were more than 6 billion. Just two decades later, the global population sits at 7.7 billion.  But soon—or at least, soon in the context of human history—the number of people on Earth will stop growing. Based on the latest figures from the United Nations, demographers’ best guess for when this will happen is about 2100. By then, the global population is projected to have risen to just shy of 11 billion.   …    Even if future fertility rates stray a bit from expectations, Vogl said, it wouldn’t “change the fact that sometime in the next [100 years], the world’s population is going to peak.” And his hunch is that the population is unlikely to go up from there, barring some major increase in fertility rates (perhaps as a result of a political movement that encourages people to have a lot of babies, which is what happened in China in the mid-20th century).

nautil.us/blog    2020  How Rising Education for Women Is Shaping the Global Population  BY KIKI SANFORD

scmp.com/  2021  chinas-population-crisis-country-might-grow-old-it-grows-rich  by Mengni Chen and Paul Yip

scmp.com   3/2021  Population decline could end China’s civilisation as we know it. When will Beijing wake up to the crisis?  by Andy Xie
“The seeds of the crisis were sown by a development strategy that relied on cheap, plentiful migrant workers to power manufacturing and construction. Now, their children don’t want to be like them – they would rather surf the internet than have children. The property bubble is only making things worse…”…

cnn.com/  9/2021  Number of newborns registered in China drops 15% amid population decline fears – by James Griffiths

The number of newborns registered with the government in China dropped almost 15% last year, amid widespread concern over falling birthrates in the world’s most populous country.  According to figures published by the Ministry of Public Security this week, there were 10.03 million new babies registered in 2020, compared to 11.79 million the year before — a decrease of 14.9%. The news comes as last year, China recorded the lowest birthrate since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.  China’s demographic issues could pose serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy when the current working-age population reaches retirement. Experts worry if the trend continues, or the population begins shrinking, China may get old before it gets rich.

theguardian.com 1/2021 as-birth-rates-fall-animals-prowl-in-our-abandoned-ghost-villages

For many years it seemed that overpopulation was the looming crisis of our age. Back in 1968, the Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich infamously predicted that millions would soon starve to death in their bestselling, doom-saying book The Population Bomb; since then, neo-Malthusian rumblings of imminent disaster have been a continual refrain in certain sections of the environmental movement – fears that were recently given voice on David Attenborough’s documentary Life on our Planet. At the time the Ehrlichs were publishing their dark prophecies, the world was at its peak of population growth, which at that point was increasing at a rate of 2.1% a year. Since then, the global population has ballooned from 3.5 billion to 7.67 billion.

gm caw 2021  population, demography

CoP 2021  elephants in the room of the growth debate – global population growth

To many, left right and middle of the political spectrum, population growth is the real issue. Most think of the hockeystick graph and are not aware of the decisive rate of growth graph which looks like a bitcoin peak crashing. Unlike bitcoin, global population is unlikely to shoot up again. To focus on Africa’s crises born birth rates is to miss the downward trajectory of rate which means we are on course for “peak human” at around 10bn, give or take 2. Meaning in most places what’s happening is populatuion decline. Apparently just as big a problem for the Status Quo. A one pony act. All it it can is make money.

Paying attention to historical evidence has never been the forte of Malthusians typically happy to cherrypick their samples like anecdotal evidence. Today: Global extrapolation from the exceptional African countries where the birth rate hasn’t yet decreased. Headlines such as “Nigerian population to double by 2050” are misread as representative of the “third world”, and, perhaps more to the point, of the white western imagination, conjuring nightmares of being “swamped by floods of negroes”. But migration doesn’t particularly correlate with birt rates. It correlates with shocks, disasters and wars, and with socio-economic factors reflecting the relative (lack of) opportunities in the relevant countries.

Reading up on demographic research: It now looks as if it the human reproduction rate has much less to do with “primitive” moralities or any particular socio cultural “factors” except when they correlate with gender inequality: Women’s relative empowerment seems to reliably correlate with the reproduction rate. More fundamentally, though, humans as potential parents turn out for once to behave rather like homo economicus. Ceterus paribus, children are planned rather like investments. The more insecure and violent the societal context, the more rational to give birth to those extra children you must expect not to survive. Also the more precarious and poor you are, the more likely your kids represent a necessary source of income. The former context is that of violent insecurity, the latter of precarious poverty within Darwinist, “laissez faire” capitalism disrupting traditional arrangements.

These findings feed into the re-interpretation of the European hockey-stick. It wasn’t improvements in hygiene, medicine or living standards, all of which seem to have emerged too late to fit the curve. Nor does it look like a Malthusian response to societal surplus. More likely it was the ruptures of feudal dependencies turning poor but relatively secure peasants into just as poor but precariously insecure workers newly dependent on their children earning money-wages.

population work ...
Victorians investing in children

DeGrowth may not address Malthusian fears. But neither does the GdP-growth of The Status Quo. A you can see from the article collection, the main narrative now is all about the decline in most national populations. If anything, Status Quo ortho-economics considers migration to be the natural solution to birth rate discrepancies, let alone wage discrepancies: because of globalised competition, local wages must not rise but cheaper labour must be imported to suppress local wage rises.   (> H Flassbeck critique of contemporary German “mercantilism”, > B. Milanovic proposing migration as only solution to global inequality)

To think migration is the solution reads like the sort of reality-abstracting naivete you get from academic TINA: People=Labour. What’s the problem?

It’s not the miniscule DeGrowth movement that has fractured the progress of globalisation. Nor the ecological crises. The “Washington Consensus” has done all that by its own hubristic denial and mismanagement of social and ecological “externalities.”

nb historical necessities !?!  Historical determinism used to be the prerogative of deterministically Darwinian evolutionists and dialectically deterministic Marxists but anathema to Liberals. until they found it convenient to rationalise their political preferences as predestined  (>John Gray). As ever one can witness how the main function of a dominant narrative is to rationalise/legitimise status quo practices by reference to allegedly “natural” necessities requiring adaptation.

In the name of historical necessity globalisation became the Holy Script of The Market unfolding as per divine  predestination. Whilst this was happening in refreshingly rewarding ways at home, one had no time for party-poopers pointing to the likely socio-political consequences of relatively impoverishing one’s domestic population by exporting their means of reproduction. When the stagnating, squeezed western cohorts of relative losers began to voice their frustrations it was deemed a deplorable display of xenophobia. Particularly naive was the apparent assumption of the winning cohorts that no one would notice that only yesterday the elites were the leading racists and xenophobes, and possibly remain so privately. After all, one has never had problems with employing foreign labour as (waged or not) slaves. One is benefitting from any additional competition for employment, housing and provisions as that is where one obtains one’s margins and rents. The cynical hypocrisy of liberals benefitting from cheap immigrant service labour whilst denying the detrimental impacts on domestic cohorts was unlikely to escape even the “uneducated”. No calculations of aggregate gains for The Economy cut much ice if, caught between exported jobs and imported labour, I personally experience a relative downgrading. Being told it’s my fault for being dumb, lazy and multi-phobic is a bit rich, given being stupid, workshy and racist has never caused the rich to go poor.