How many people are there in the world? In which countries is the population growing the fastest? How was it affected by the Covid-19 epidemic? Is the world facing an overpopulation problem?
How many people are there in the world?
The answer to the question of how many people there are in the world changes with every second. Nevertheless, it is possible to take into account censuses, estimate the birth rate and the number of deaths. In general, if someone asks how many people there are in the world, in 2021 the answer will be: 7.7 billion. The world population is projected to reach eight and a half billion in 2030. This is a huge number and is often disturbing. It is not uncommon to hear predictions that overpopulation will lead to a global struggle for resources.
The amount of people in the world is constantly rising, but at the beginning of the 20th century the human population grew rapidly – it is called a demographic explosion. In 1900, the number of people in the world was only one and a half billion. The “detonator” of this explosion was the possibility of cheap production of nitrogen fertilizer (the so-called Haber-Bosch method). Access to fertilizers meant that in the 20th century the amount of available food increased fivefold. It also meant a sudden population growth.
Has the pandemic adversely affected the birth rate?
The Covid-19 pandemic affected the mode of operation of entire nations and the world economy, proving to be far more deadly than expected. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, from January 2020 to July 2021 , over 180 million people became infected with the coronavirus, and almost 4 million died. Considering how many billions of people there are in the world, that doesn’t seem like much, but it’s still 1% of all deaths on Earth – from one source.
Of course, Covid-19 deaths are unlikely to radically reduce the number of people in the world today. However, the pandemic may have an impact on the global demographics not because of deaths, but because of the lack of births. The pandemic has resulted in a global economic crisis, and many young people therefore give up starting a family and begetting children. However, these are also relatively minor changes – the number of people around the world seems to be a huge number and even such variables cannot harm it.
Countries with the highest population growth.
The Earth’s population is growing and the population structure will change in the 21st century. Countries with high populations such as China, India and the United States are likely to remain highly populated, but the birth rate is not at a record high in these countries. The countries with the highest birth rate are African countries: Kenya, Niger and Angola. It is estimated that the population of Africa will double by 2050.
This is worrying to many people. These countries have long struggled with the problem of feeding their inhabitants, and many of them depend on humanitarian aid. They lack infrastructure and are exploited by more developed countries. How many people there are in the world can be very depressing when we realize that most of them live in dire poverty. On the other hand, the stereotypical image of Africa is also false – many countries on this continent are taking measures to reduce poverty by investing in education and industry.
UN research estimates that in the 21st century China will cease to be the most populous country in the world and will be replaced by India. They are the most densely populated country in the world (excluding micro contents). If you know how many people there are in the world today, you may have heard that half of them live in India, China or Indonesia. All these Asian countries are developing rapidly, especially when it comes to high technology, but they also often have problems with local infrastructure, which has an impact on the population.
Do we know how many people have lived on Earth so far?
Recent centuries have seen a real population explosion. There have even been claims that today there are more people alive than dead. This, however, is probably not true. We know how many people there are in the world today, but we hardly have data on much of human history – but the number can be estimated from the birth rate. Although the population of the planet has increased several times, the ratio of the number of newborn children to the number of living ones has decreased significantly.
For hundreds of years, many newborns have not survived the birth, and the survivors may not have reached the age of ten. These children should also be included in the population. Contrary to pessimism, UN research shows that the number of people in the world today accounts for less than 7% of all human lives. Thus, since the birth of the species Homo sapiens (approx. 50,000 BC) , 108 billion people were born – of which less than 8 are alive today.
The first cultures and civilizations were established in 10 thousand years BC – it is estimated that from 1 to 10 million people lived on Earth at that time. The population of our planet at the beginning of our era was probably around 170 million. For hundreds of years, Rome was the only city in history with over a million inhabitants. The only sudden change was the fourteenth-century Black Death epidemic. According to some estimates, it killed 40 to 60% of the European population.
Is the Earth overpopulated?
Many demographers, futurists, and politicians predicted an overpopulation of the Earth – and related problems: famines, epidemics, draconian governments controlling reproductive rights. It is hard to say that they would come true one hundred percent. Today, projections are that in the 70s of XXI century, the population will reach a stable level of 10 billion. Unless there is some world-changing technological shock, the number of people in the world will not increase rapidly.
The population is also influenced by the so-called demographic transition. In simple terms, when society reaches a high level of prosperity and child mortality decreases, so does the birth rate. In less developed countries, a larger family always means additional free labor and a support for old age. In a country with social security, starting a family is not necessary and may be an additional cost. In less industrialized countries, the birth rate decreased along with rising technological levels and living standards.
Overpopulation is hardly as big of a problem as pessimists often say. They often play on fears and prejudices – in the past, Europeans were threatened with Asian hordes, today it is said that the most frequently given name to children in the EU is Muhammad. On the other hand, the more people there are in the world, the more we are depleting the Earth’s resources – for which future generations will pay. Overpopulation is unlikely to threaten us – but overconsumption and waste are still important.