Futuribles Journal n° 190

Entreprises, travail - Population

L'avenir de la population mondiale. Quand les perspectives officielles se trompent lourdement


The Future of World Population. When Official Perspectives Are Egregiously Mistaken

Projections are eminently dependent on the base hypotheses and therefore are only of value if the latter are well chosen. The medium and long-term projections of the United Nations, which experts take as authoritative, rest on some highly debatable hypotheses. Georges Mathews contends that they are also critical. In particular, the United Nations projection which is generally accepted as most plausible postulates fecundity in the northern hemisphere, like that of the South, will converge progressively toward 2.1. This, as we know, is just sufficient for replacement in the most developed countries of the planet. But according to Georges Mathews this hypothesis is highly doubtful, partly because fecundity in the industrial countries is well under that figure and there is no reason for expecting it to recover. Furthermore, the demographic transition in the South has achieved sufficient rhythm and amplitude that fecundity will doubtless be well below what is generally expected. This means, the author concludes, that "there will not be 8.5 billion humans on the earth in 2025 ; there will be many fewer".
The thesis of G. Mathews is perhaps disputable. Its merit is to encourage debate on the likelihood of an hypothesis which sub-tends a projection to which we refer all the time, forgetting too often just how uncertain the long term evolution of world population really is.

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