|June 17, 2013|
Global population to soar to 11 billion by 2100
|The world's population will reach almost eleven billion by the end of the century because of soaring birth rates in Africa, according to new research.|
The latest projection is about 800 million - eight percent - more than a previous UN forecast of 10.1 billion issued in 2011.
Researchers had expected fertility on the poorest continent where a woman will give birth to an average of 5.2 children in her lifetime, to fall more quickly than it has.
The current African population is about 1.1 billion and it is now expected to reach 4.2 billion, nearly a fourfold increase, by 2100.
Professor Adrian Raftery, of the University of Washington, said: 'The fertility decline in Africa has slowed down or stalled to a larger extent than we previously predicted, and as a result the African population will go up.'
A study last year found shifting population trends mean one in three children born by 2050 will be African.
The new estimates are based on better statistical methods developed by Prof Raftery and colleagues using finely tuned data that anticipate the life expectancies.
In other areas of the world, fewer major population changes are expected. Europe may see a small decline because of fertility continuing below replacement level, and other nations around the globe may see modest increases due to longer life expectancies, said Prof Raftery.
But there is no end in sight for the increase of world population, yet the topic has gone off the agenda in favour of other pressing global issues including poverty and climate change.
With famine recently returning to the Horn of Africa, it is feared a continent already feeling the pain of climate change will be unable to produce enough food or more importantly, have enough water, to meet its needs.
Africa is growing fast because it is young. The top 10 youngest populations in the world are all from the continent, led by Niger with an estimated 48.9 per cent below the age of 14, Uganda and Mali.
Many will have big families, knowing despite ongoing efforts to combat malnutrition and HIV, there is a strong risk many of their children will die.
Prof Raftery said: 'These new findings show that we need to renew policies, such as increasing access to family planning and expanding education for girls, to address rapid population growth in Africa.'
The UN gives high and low variants of its projections, assuming women have an average of half a child more or less than the best projection. That leaves a large uncertainty, from 7 billion to nearly 17 billion, in the range for potential world population.
'Our probability intervals are much tighter, ranging from 9 billion to 13 billion in 2100,' added Prof Raftery.
The global population reached 7 billion in 2011, having passed 6 billion in 1999.