The latest population modelling shows that the dire forecasts of global overpopulation and food shortages are unlikely to eventuate. Indeed, the challenge for many countries will not be managing population growth, but trying to attract migration to deal with population contraction. It is now expected that the global population will peak in 2064 at just under 10 billion people, up from 7.7 billion today. While many countries will see population declines as we approach the 2050’s, Australia’s population, even with our slowing birth rate, will continue to increase through overseas migration.
Shifts across the globe
The next few decades will see a massive shifting of global demographics, and with that global economics and geo-political power as well.
By 2050, the population of Europe will be in decline, Asia will be nearing its peak, South and Central America will see growth slowing, while Africa’s population will continue to grow until 2100. Australia’s population will still be growing, but through net migration rather than natural increase.
By the end of the century, the top four countries by population will be India, China, Nigeria and the USA (a big reordering from the current China, India, USA and Indonesia).
The declining growth rates are directly linked to the declining birth rates and ageing populations of once fast-growing countries. By 2030, the median age in Japan will be 51, in Italy it will be 49, and in China it will be 41 compared to Australia’s 39, up from 38 currently.
However, the median age in fast growing countries like Sudan will be 20, 18 in Nigeria and 16 in Somalia.
Global generational change
The next decade will also bring significant generational change as well. By 2030, the largest generation globally will be Generation Alpha, (born 2010 to 2024). These children of the Millennials will comprise two billion people – nearly a quarter of the global population, compared to the Baby Boomers who will then comprise less than 10%, or 836 million people globally.
The impact of COVID-19
The global numbers of COVID-19 fatalities are tragically large, but as a contributor to total deaths, they are not comparable to the impacts of previous pandemics such as the Spanish Flu. At nearly 800,000 deaths globally so far from COVID-19, these deaths account for about 1.3% of the 60 million deaths annually.
Each year the deaths from HIV/Aids are larger at around one million, and so far the COVID-19 deaths are well below the annual Tuberculosis deaths of 1.2m, and about one half of the deaths from pathogens in unsanitary water such as cholera and typhoid (1.6m).
After heart disease (32% of global annual deaths) and cancer (17%) comes respiratory diseases and infections (12%) which is where COVID-19 deaths are categorised. However, if it had a stand-alone category, it is tragically tending to become the 15th biggest cause of death in 2020, set to overtake HIV/Aids.
If the deaths from COVID-19 steady, and slow during 2021, it will not have a marked impact on global population numbers, especially when the vast majority of these deaths, as in Australia, are of people past their child-bearing years.