Futuribles Journal n° 415


World Population: Growth and Ageing


The world population, estimated by the United Nations at 7.4 billion, has never been so large as it is today. Will it go on growing or will it level off in the coming decades? Drawing on his contribution to the 2016Vigie Report, updated to take account of the UN’s 2015 revision of the world population forecast, Alain Parant takes stock here of the main future demographic trends. Though, as he stresses, world population growth is less intense than in the past, it remains a deep-seated trend. It is driven by the developing countries and is a product, among other things, of increasing average life-expectancy and a fertility rate generally higher than “generation replacement” level. Apart from the continuation of this demographic growth, the world is also likely to see a general ageing of the population (more acute in the developed countries). Lastly, one continent stands out from the others in demographic terms: Africa, where demographic growth is moving much more quickly than elsewhere and should continue to do so, one consequence of this being a distinctly younger population than in the rest of the world and, most importantly, a future level of population which it looks difficult for that continent to cope with while maintaining decent conditions. Given these trends, the migration problem is likely to intensify in the coming decades and to occupy a central place in international relations.

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