A new analysis published in The Lancet has projected that the world population will peak much earlier than previously estimated.

  • The study analysed population trends in 195 countries. 
  • It used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 to model future population in various scenarios as a function of fertility, migration, and mortality rates.
    • The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) is the most comprehensive worldwide observational epidemiological study to date that is produced with the input of 3,676 collaborators from 146 countries and territories.
    • Examining trends from 1990 to the present and making comparisons across populations enables understanding of the changing health challenges facing people across the world in the 21st century. 

What are the forecasts for the world population?

  • It projects the peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, which is 36 years earlier than the 11 billion peak projected for 2100 by last year’s UN report World Population Prospects. 
  • For 2100, the new report projects a decline to 8.79 billion from the 2064 peak.
  • The global TFR is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100. In 23 countries including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain, it is projected to shrink by more than 50%.
  • For a generation to exactly replace itself, the replacement-level total fertility rate (TFR) is taken to be 2.1, representing the average number of children a woman would need to have.

India’s population trends:

  • India will reach the peak population of 1.6 billion in 2048, up from 1.38 billion in 2017. By 2100, the population is projected to decline by 32% to 1.09 billion.
  • Fall in TFR: India’s TFR was already below 2.1 in 2019. The TFR is projected to continue a steep decline until about 2040, reaching 1.29 in 2100.
  • The working-age population will also increase in the first half of the century, and then decline in the second half due to falling fertility rates.
  • The number of working-age adults (20–64 years) is projected to fall from around 748 million in 2017 to around 578 million in 2100. This will be the largest working-age population in the world by 2100. 
  • From 2017 to 2100, India is projected to rise up the list of countries with the largest GDP, from 7th to 3rd.
  • India is projected to have the second largest net immigration in 2100.
  • India is projected to have one of the lowest life expectancies (79.3 years in 2100, up from 69.1 in 2017).

Take away from the report: 

  • The report cites huge challenges to the economic growth of a shrinking workforce, the high burden on health and social support systems of an ageing population.
  • Continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth.

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