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ASEAN ANALYSIS  30 July 2010

Population report arrives

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   30 July 2010

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The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) ( has just released its 2010 report and the reports offers an interesting look into how the human race looks now and how it will look by 2050.

"There are two major trends in world population today," says Bill Butz, PRB's president. "On the one hand, chronically low birth rates in developed countries are beginning to challenge the health and financial security of their elderly. On the other, the developing countries are adding over 80 million to the population every year and the poorest of those countries are adding 20 million, exacerbating poverty and threatening the environment."

Here are bits of information from the bureau’s report.

The worldwide recession appears to have caused declines in birth rates in some developed countries, such as Spain and the United States; and slowed down increases where birth rates had begun to rise, such as in Norway and Russia.

The world population will hit 8 billion in 2024 after reaching 7 billion in 2011.

India will replace China as the most populous country with a population of 1.75 billion as opposed to China’s 1.4 billion. The United States will be a distant third place with 423 million.

Japan will continue its downward trend, declining to 95 million from its present 127 by 2050. Indonesia currently has the fourth largest population but will drop to sixth place with a population of 309 million.

The report states: “it is obvious that all future population growth will take place in the developing countries.”

Throughout the world, 40 percent of the population or 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. This is especially true in rural areas.

In Southeast Asia the number of working adults to support a working adult will decline from 11:1 to 4:1 by 2050, a trend that is repeating in all aging countries. This will place additional strains on families and governments to care for the elderly.

The world population reached a billion people around 1800, but since then the world population grows by a billion every 12 years. The 20th century began 1.6 billion people and by its end the number reversed to 6.1 billion. If birth rates continue to decline, the march to 8 billion could take slightly longer, the report states.

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