Earth’s Population Could Possibly Reach 12 Billion People By 2100

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A research team from the University of Washington has predicted Earth’s population to exceed 12 billion by the year 2100.

Statistician and sociologist Adrian Raftery and his 13-member crew arrived to their conclusion after analyzing UN data regarding rates of fertility, death, migration and aging.

The results yielded significant uncertainty on many levels, saying we could have anywhere from 15.8 billion to as little as 6 billion people on the planet at the turn of the century, Wired reported.

The team first set out to determine the results as if the female population produced 0.5 more or fewer children than expected, applying this model to every country.

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They wrote,

There is an 80 percent probability that world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion in 2100.

Fertility rates have decreased quite a bit in Asia and South America, so the populations of those continents will most likely become more stable.

This is anything but the case for Africa, on the other hand, where fertility rates are dropping.

This is why the team concluded that by a probability of 95 percent, the African population should rise to between 3.1 billion and 5.7 billion by 2100.

Contraceptive use as well as educational and economic opportunities for women have expanded in much of the world, but according to Wired, just half of the female population in sub-Saharan Africa can read and approximately 36 million of them have no way of obtaining contraception.

Traditional African families also tend to be larger than those of Asia and South America.

One would imagine poverty to be a huge factor here, but fertility rates have remained high even in countries like Uganda, which has experienced significant economic growth.

Economist and demographer David Lam of the University of Michigan told Wired that because of these contradictory outcomes, the fate of Africa’s population simply cannot be accurately predicted.

He said,

No amount of statistical sophistication is going to solve the fact that we just don’t know what is going to happen to fertility in Africa.

Lam made sure to add, however, that the human population maintained stability after doubling between 1960 and 1999, an increase many thought would lead to disease and economic turmoil.

Lam said,

Everything is not rosy, but the average person in a developing country is much better off than in 1960 in terms of food, poverty, education and employment.

Raftery is relatively optimistic as well.

He told Wired,

There are challenges and we should be concerned, but I wouldn’t subscribe to the idea that they can’t be solved.

He hopes his work will encourage experts in similar areas of study to remind the public what cultural changes need to be met in preparation for a surge in population.

H/T: Wired, Photo Credit: Getty Images

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