There will be 9 billion people on the planet by 2050; an addition of over 50 million a year. Then begins the global decline. The world will have a different face by then. But the population story is no longer about growth alone. It's a story about slower growth, increasing decline, older people, and more urban living. For development, it's also about where each of those trends occurs, and how they affect each other.
The mirror image of the several dozen countries with high population growth - almost all of them in Africa - are several dozen countries with falling populations - all of them are countries in transition. These two extremes in population trends create forceful imperatives in those countries -- and amongst those who care about their development prospects -- in terms of social safety nets, employment conditions, health care needs, and a host of other issues. Demographic trends between the extremes are apparent in regions of the world today. Increasing numbers of middle and even low-income countries are experiencing slow population growth, while others have reached a fertility "plateau," at still-high growth rates. The development paths for each of these demographic conditions are different from each other, and don’t much fit the standard development pathway conceived back in the mid-20th century.
Demographics Trends were the focus of our September 2008 lecture, Beyond Population: Everybody Counts in Development, by Joel E. Cohen Professor of Population, Columbia and Rockefeller Universities. For current information on lecture dates, times and locations, and to RSVP, see the Lecture Series Overview.