Informative piece from the Wilson Quarterly on recent demographic projections. With such a long-term view, it is typical for small changes in assumptions (e.g., country birthrate shifts) to register major changes in actual numbers. What is atypical, however, is how quickly many of our demographic assumptions have shifted over the past few years.
Something dramatic has happened to the world’s birthrates. Defying predictions of demographic decline, northern Europeans have started having more babies. Britain and France are now projecting steady population growth through the middle of the century. In North America, the trends are similar. In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. Indeed, the population of the world’s current demographic colossus will be shrinking. And China is but one particularly sharp example of a widespread fall in birthrates that is occurring across most of the developing world, including much of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The one glaring exception to this trend is sub-Saharan Africa, which by the end of this century may be home to one-third of the human race.
via Paul Kedrosky