The world population explosion: causes, backgrounds and projections for the future
Fertility, family planning, world population, population growth, demographic transition, urbanization, population momentum, population projections
Published online: Jan 14 2014
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the total world population crossed the threshold of 1 billion people for the first time in the history of the homo sapiens sapiens. Since then, growth rates have been increasing exponentially, reaching staggeringly high peaks in the 20th century and slowing down a bit thereafter. Total world population reached 7 billion just after 2010 and is expected to count 9 billion by 2045. This paper first charts the differences in population growth between the world regions. Next, the mechanisms behind unprecedented population growth are explained and plausible scenarios for future developments are discussed. Crucial for the long term trend will be the rate of decline of the number of births per woman, called total fertility. Improvements in education, reproductive health and child survival will be needed to speed up the decline of total fertility, particularly in Africa. But in all scenarios, world population will continue to grow for some time due to population momentum. Finally, the paper outlines the debate about the consequences of the population explosion, involving poverty and food security, the impact on the natural environment, and migration flows.