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World’s population hits 8 billion

NEW YORK. – The world’s population hit 8 billion on Tuesday, according to UN estimates, a major milestone as many parts of the world face plummeting growth rates and world leaders struggle to address pressing global issues like climate change, food security, aging populations and environmental destruction.

The milestone comes just 11 years after the human population reached 7 billion people and the continued growth can be attributed to extended life expectancies brought about through advances and developments in public health, sanitation and nutrition.

The human population could reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and peak at around 10.4 billion during the 2080s and remain at that level until 2100, the UN estimated.

Growth will not happen evenly across the planet, however, and the UN noted that more than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

Forecasts suggest other significant changes are on the horizon, the UN said, in particular increasing life expectancies—slated to rise from 72.98 in 2019 to 77.2 in 2050—and markedly older populations.

The proportion of people aged 65 will rise from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050, the UN estimates, with the number roughly double that of children under 5 and around the same as those under 12.

The demographic changes present major challenges to nations and the UN urged countries with aging populations to adapt their public programs to address the issue, including improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems, establishing universal health care and setting up long-term care systems.

India is slated to overtake China as the world’s most populous country at some point during 2023, the UN estimated. India and China are currently home to around 1.39 billion and 1.41 billion people, respectively, each more than four times the U.S., the world’s third most populous country.

The UN projects India and China will remain the world’s first and second largest population hubs, though China is expected to face a precipitous drop in its population, halving its current value by the end of the century. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, are expected to keep growing throughout 2100. –

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