Every day we are more and more on the planet. The United Nations (UN) has just published its new report on the evolution of the world population: by November 15, the threshold of 8 billion earthlings will be exceeded, or 1 billion more human beings than in 2010. These figures must not however hide the fact that “Population growth has been decelerating continuously for 70 years”explains Gilles Pison, professor at the National Museum of Natural History and scientific advisor to the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED).

franceinfo: There will be 8 billion human beings by November … Is there room for everyone?

Gilles Pison: We were already asking the question when we were only one billion on the planet. Two centuries had passed, it is a recurring question. The observation is that there are more and more of us. But population growth has been decelerating for 70 years. The population is growing at a rate of 1% per year and the rate is expected to continue to decline over the coming decades. The UN expects a stabilization of 10.5 billion people on Earth in the 2080s. This is because humans have chosen to have few children. And this is true everywhere, in more and more places on the planet. The main consequence is stabilization, zero long-term population growth, perhaps even a reduction.

“In two thirds of the countries of the world, couples now have fewer than two children on average.”

Gilles Pison, demographer

to franceinfo

The UN also counted that Covid-19 had caused an excess of mortality of 14.9 million people. Will this induce demographic changes in the future?

No none. This does not change the trends in any way, it represents a 12% increase in deaths for the years 2020 and 2021 alone. The assumption is that Covid-19 has had a temporary effect and that by 2022 life expectancy is returning to pre – pandemic levels and trends. This is often what we observe and therefore will have changed very little the announced figures for the coming decades.

The Indians will soon be more numerous than the Chinese. Is it a source of upheaval?

There too it was announced. Even if the UN’s revision of the data means that the date of India’s overtaking of China has been brought forward. We knew it would take place before 2030, but now we know it will be next year. And it is not so much for India’s faster growth, which follows its evolution. This is because the figures for China have been seriously revised downwards due to the observation that Chinese men and women have fewer and fewer children, far fewer than we imagined. This despite the Chinese government’s pronatalist policy which wants to support the birth rate. This is one of the main lessons of these projections: China will see its population decline in the coming decades. The country is at its peak and could lose nearly half of its population by 2100.

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