Magazine article UN Chronicle

10 Billion by the Year 2087? Fertility Decline Is Essential, Says Population Fund Report

Magazine article UN Chronicle

10 Billion by the Year 2087? Fertility Decline Is Essential, Says Population Fund Report

Article excerpt

10 billion by the year 2087?

Fertility decline is essential, says Population Fund report

Every minute, 150 babies are born into the world. That means about 220,000 new human beings a day--80 million a year who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, educated and employed. 9 out of 10 are born in the third world.

The astonishing Figures come from the 1987 report of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities --State of World Population.

At this rate, the report says, the population of the world--which reached the 5 billion mark in July--will rise to 6 billion by the end of the century. About 100 years from now, world population is expected to level off at around 10 billion.

One billion more every 12 years

It took mankind up to the last century to reach the 1 billion mark. Then the pace quickened. Now, every 12 years another billion people populate the planet.

"Is reaching five billion a triumph for humanity or a threat to its future?', the report asks.

Both, it concludes.

There are several reasons for pride in reaching the 5 billion mark. Current life expectancy is now about 60 years, three times what it was when world population reached 500 million in the mid-17th century. Infant mortality is now 80 in every 1,000--a fifth of the rate in those days.

But the population growth also has its sombre side.

Africa presents "a dramatic example', according to the report. While it now produces 20 per cent more food than a decade ago, per capita food production is down by 11 per cent. The main culprit is the high fertility rate.

"Africa is currently growing at rates never experienced by the other continents.' Before 2050 it will roughly have three times the population of Europe.

To refute the argument that population growth is economically neutral, the report compares the cases of Brazil and Japan.

In Brazil, high fertility rates have gobbled up the fruits of economic expansion. In 1960 Brazil's gross national product (GNP) was $900 per person compared with $1,400 for Japan. Today, Brazil's is only $2,000 while Japan's is $16,000. Both countries have had similar GNP growth rates in the last 25 years, but a radically different population picture. …

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