Reducing inequality could cut world population to 6 billion: Study
The global population could decrease to six billion by the end of the century if there is a substantial investment in tackling poverty and inequality, according to researchers.
The report evaluated different policies to determine their potential impact worldwide and concluded that the population could reach 8.5 billion by 2040 before declining by 2100, provided extreme poverty is eradicated and successful policies for economic development are implemented.
Reducing poverty and inequality crucial
However, the experts also predicted that the population will peak at 8.6 billion in 2050 and decline to 7 billion by 2100 based on current economic trends.
The study was conducted by the Club of Rome, a non-profit organisation that addresses the crises facing humanity and the planet. Still, its figures differ from UN forecasts, predicting the population to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and peak at 10.4 billion in the 2080s.
The researchers utilised Earth4All, a modelling system, to explore the two possible outcomes for this century. The ‘Giant Leap’ scenario posits that the population will drop to six billion only if there is a significant investment in education and healthcare and extraordinary policy changes in food and energy security, inequality, and gender equity.
Earth4All model and Giant Leap
The Earth4All model is more intricate than previous models as it takes into account environmental, economic, and social factors, such as food production, income, taxes, energy, and inequality. It also incorporates the expected impacts of global warming and uses GDP per person as a proxy for educational attainment and access to contraceptives.
The projection by Earth4All in a business-as-usual scenario is lower than the ‘most likely’ projection from Vollset’s team. Still, it is ‘within the range of our scenarios with faster progress in female education’ with those who need contraception being able to access it, says Vollset.
To achieve a faster decline in the total number of people in the Giant Leap scenario, the Club of Rome initiative calls for a push to improve the well-being of everyone on the planet.
This would include reducing poverty by investing trillions of dollars in green jobs and cancelling debt, reducing inequality by raising taxes on richer people, improving gender equality by ensuring more women have access to education, promoting healthier and greener diets, and electrifying everything that can be electrified with renewable sources of energy.
World population declining
A study published in ‘The Lancet’ predicts that the world population will reach a peak of about 9,700 million in 2064 but will fall to 8,800 million by the end of the century, a World population will be declining more than 50% in developed countries.
However, a study published by The Lancet points out that the United Nations could be wrong in its predictions. According to research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations (IHME) at the University of Washington, humanity will reach its peak population in the 2060s, at 9.7 billion. But from then on, the demographic cycle will change and the number of people on the planet will slowly shrink to 8.8 billion in 2100.
The key to this turnaround will be in women’s education, which will be more widespread and earlier, accelerating fertility decline and slow population growth even in countries that currently have gigantic birth rates. In sub-Saharan Africa, nations such as Niger, Burundi and Angola have more than six children per woman, a figure that will drop to two by the end of the century.
Of course, the decline will especially impact countries that already have a relatively ageing population, such as Japan, Thailand, and Italy. In any case, in the vast majority of countries analyzed, 183 out of 195, the Total Fertility Rate (FTR) will be at levels that will not allow the size of their populations to be maintained, unless ‘liberal immigration policies’ are applied. warns the study. Despite this, in Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany and France would remain within the ‘top 10’ at the end of the century.
A new world order?
The population drop could also mean that both countries could slip back down the list of global economic powerhouses, falling from thirteenth and ninth places in 2017 to twenty-eighth and twenty-fifth in 2100, respectively.
The new world population context may imply essential changes in the internal balances of the great international powers. Without going any further, two of the most important economic engines today, India and China, would suffer large declines in the segment of people of working age, which would slow down their economic growth.
In other words, although experts predict that China will replace the United States as the world’s largest economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2035, the Asian giant could experience a ‘rapid’ demographic decline from 2050, with a reduction in its labour force, from 950 million in 2017 to 357 million in 2100.
If this scenario occurs, it is very likely that the North American power will return to first place by 2098, as long as, they specify, immigration continues to nourish its workforce.
And it is that, as the authors of the study recall, in those countries with high incomes and fertility rates that are unable to compensate for the loss of World population, the ‘best solution’ to maintain ‘current levels, economic growth and geopolitical security» would go through the application of «open migratory policies. Their ‘social policies’, they add, must also serve to ‘support families’ so that they have the ‘desired number of children’.
Increase in populations
Likewise, the increase in populations in sub-Saharan Africa countries would reinforce this region’s power in global geopolitical matters, with a particularly dominant position for Nigeria.
The authors’ projections for this country indicate that it will be the only one among the 10 most populous in the world that will increase its labour force, going from 86 million in 2017 to 458 in 2100, an increase that would boost its GDP to ninth place.
“Continued population growth over the century is no longer the most likely trajectory. The study offers governments of all countries an opportunity to begin rethinking their policies on immigration, workforce and economic development to meet the challenges presented by demographic changes, ‘explained the director of the IHME, Christopher Murray.
In any case, the future raised by this study is that of an extraordinarily old planet in 2100, in which those over 65 years of age will be around 2.3 billion, compared to only 1.7 billion under 20 years of age. A demographic change of which we still do not know all the implications.
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