D-Stories | Environment

We will be more and more, or maybe not

The world population could start decreasing earlier than expected: good news for some countries, but not for others – among them, Italy.

The latest population projections estimate that we will be just about 8.8 billion in 2100, which means a mere billion more than today; we will reach the peak of 9.7 billion people in about forty years, but this number will have begun to decrease quite rapidly by the end of the century.

In 1971, Bangladesh had 65 millions of inhabitants, and the number rose to roughly 80 million at the end of the twentieth century: today, with a 160-million population, Bangladesh is considered a seriously overpopulated country, but its birth rate is decreasing so rapidly that projections estimate its population will halve by 2100.

The South-East Asian country has reached this result above all by educating girls and by making contraception easily available: the same factors that are contributing to lower the birth rate in other countries, including the Western world.

These numbers are good news, because at the end of the century the world population will decrease by two billion people compared to the worrying numbers – almost eleven billion – published by the United Nations.

Bangladesh is considered a seriously overpopulated country, but its birth rate is decreasing so rapidly that projections estimate its population will halve by 2100.

More than 25 countries will lose half of the population within 100 years, among them all the East Asian countries (China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan) and several states of Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe (Italy, Poland, Spain, and Greece, to name a few). Some populations will decline even more drastically: Bulgaria’s will decrease from seven to 2,6 millions, Latvia from two millions to less than half a million.

The problem for all these countries will be represented by a significant excess of elders as the younger population decreases gradually: the demographic pyramid will be overturned, and every person of working age will potentially have to support – from a fiscal point of view – at least one pensioner.

Then, there is a group of countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, where the population growth is still out of control: some of these states will see their population triple (for example, Israel and Angola), quadruple (Afghanistan and Nigeria), or increase even more – Chad’s population by eight times, Niger’s by nine.

Finally, those countries with a long-standing tradition in welcoming immigrants from other continents and cultures, already rich enough to attract other people, will each grow by some millions of people by 2100 – this is the case of Sweden, Norway, France, and the United Kingdom.

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