Africa’s child demographics and the world’s future
In 1950, only about a tenth of the world’s children lived in Africa.1 Within 50 years, that proportion almost doubled, and it is set to double again by the middle of the 21st century, leaving Africa with nearly a billion children younger than 18 years by 2050-37% of the worldwide total. By the end of the century, based on present trends, almost half of all children will live in Africa.
How this unprecedented growth in the continent’s child population came about, and its implications for Africa and the rest of the world, is the subject of Generation 2030 Africa,1 a report on child demographics released by UNICEF on Aug 12, 2014. The report is the second in the UNICEF series on child demographics, after Generation 2025 and beyond.2
Two main forces are driving this present rise and projected expansion of Africa’s child population: rapidly rising numbers of births (figure) and falling rates of child mortality. Currently, around 3·4 million births take place in Africa every month.1 In the next 15 years, about 700 million will occur, and between now and mid-century 1·8 billion are projected, resulting from high rates of fertility and an increasing number of women of reproductive age. The average fertility rate for Africa currently stands at 4·7 children per woman of reproductive age (15-49 years)-far above the rate in Asia (2·2) and the worldwide average.
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit