Rogue Demographer: “Population Growth Forecast From the U.N. May Be Too High”

September 23, 2013 • Daily Email Recap

Population Growth Forecast From the U.N. May Be Too High

DEMOGRAPHY may, as they say, be destiny. But demography is anything but a sure thing.

The United Nations population division said this summer that fertility rates in many developing countries had not slowed as the U.N. had expected. As a result, it revised its forecast of the world population in 2100 upward by 700 million people, to 10.9 billion.

Two years earlier, the U.N. had made an even larger revision, raising the forecast from 9 billion. And in its 2008 forecasts, global population was set to peak around 2070 and then begin to fall. In the latest forecast, there is no peak in sight.

“What we have been finding, when we have looked at all of the data,” said Barney Cohen, the chief of the U.N.’s populations studies branch, “is that our previous projections were a little too optimistic. Fertility in Africa is not coming down as rapidly as we thought it would.”

Africa accounts for nearly all the increased forecast for 2100 – about 600 million – and Latin America accounts for 100 million more. The U.N. forecasts for Europe and North America were reduced from previous ones.

But it is possible that the U.N.’s latest forecast is too pessimistic. An analysis of population trends by Sanjeev Sanyal, the global strategist for Deutsche Bank, concludes that population growth is likely to be much slower than the U.N.’s estimate.

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