The Amazing, Surprising, Africa-Driven Demographic Future of the Earth, in 9 Charts

Max Fisher, Washington Post, July 16, 2013

The United Nations Population Division, which tracks demographic data from around the world, has dramatically revised its projections for what will happen in the next 90 years. The new statistics, based on in-depth survey data from sub-Saharan Africa, tell the story of a world poised to change drastically over the next several decades. Most rich countries will shrink and age (with a couple of important exceptions), poorer countries will expand rapidly and, maybe most significant of all, Africa will see a population explosion nearly unprecedented in human history.

If these numbers turn out to be right–they’re just projections and could change significantly under unforeseen circumstances–the world of 2100 will look very different than the world of today, with implications for everyone. {snip}

Here is the story of the next 90 years as predicted by UN demographic data and explained in nine charts. {snip}


(1) The big story will be Africa

Right now, with a couple of exceptions, Africa’s population density is relatively low; it’s a very big continent more sparsely populated than, say, Europe or East Asia. That’s changing very quickly. The continent’s overall population is expected to more than quadruple over just 90 years, an astonishingly rapid growth that will make Africa more important than ever. And it’s not just that there will four times the workforce, four times the resource burden, four times as many voters. The rapid growth itself will likely transform political and social dynamics within African countries and thus their relationship with the rest of the world. {snip}

Asia will continue to grow but its population growth, already slowing, is expected to peak about 50 years from now then start declining. As has happened in the West, rising economies will lead to declining birth rates. {snip}

The story in those three little lines at the bottom is less promising. Europe will continue to shrink, which is worsening its economic problems. South America’s population will rise until about 2050, at which point it will begin its own gradual population decline. North America is the least ambiguous success story: it will continue to grow at a slow, sustainable rate, surpassing South America’s overall population around 2070.


[Editor’s Note: There are more interesting charts and related commentary at the original article link below.]

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