Upcoming Release of PRB’s 2013 World Population Data Sheet

MEDIA ADVISORY: Sept. 6, 2013

AFRICA TO LEAD WORLD IN POPULATION GROWTH: Upcoming Release of PRB’s 2013 World Population Data Sheet

CONTACT: Ellen Carnevale, 202-939-5407; ecarnevale@prb.org. Advance copies of the report are available. Embargoed until 10 a.m. (EDT), Sept. 12, 2013.

Washington, DC – Africa, the world’s poorest region, will record the largest amount of population growth of any world region between now and 2050.

Africa’s population is expected to more than double, rising from 1.1 billion today to at least 2.4 billion by 2050. Nearly all of that growth will be in the 51 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the region’s poorest.

The Population Reference Bureau’s 2013 World Population Data Sheet and related material, including an interactive map and infographic, will be online at 10 a.m. (EDT) on Sept. 12, 2013, at www.prb.org. The Data Sheet offers detailed information on 20 population, health, and environment indicators for more than 200 countries.

We are hosting a webinar on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 11 a.m.–noon (EDT). To receive an invitation to the webinar, send an e-mail to Tyjen Tsai at ttsai@prb.org.

The Population Reference Bureau informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations.

A Tale of Four Pyramids

by Carl Haub, senior demographer, PRB

There has been quite a bit made in the media and in blogs about low birth rates in industrialized countries. Quite correctly, many people (and countries!) are concerned that unprecedented aging and a dearth of younger people are leading to serious pressure on national budgets from a rising burden of support for the elderly because of  a declining group of tax-paying workers. But the situation is far from equal everywhere, and less is written about that.

The contrast between the age structures of the two country pairs below is striking, to say the least. All four countries have rather stable birth rates. If they stay that way, the demographic future of all four seems quite clear but in very different ways. These differences have profound implications for the future. Sharp shifts to an aging population will result in growing budgetary constraints, less ability to provide aid, and limited foreign policy options.

Populations of France and Germany, by Age and Sex

France and Germany

Source: for France: Institut national d'études démographfiques; and for Germany: United Nations Demographic Yearbook 2011.

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Were the Population Alarmists Right or Wrong?

by Carl Haub, senior demographer, Population Reference Bureau

Articles proposing that past alarm over world population growth is now completely wrong have appeared quite frequently over the past 10 years or so and seem to be gathering momentum. Such writings express the view that low birth rates, not high ones, are the world’s problem, voiding the long-held fears of overpopulation. Paul Ehrlich, author of the (in)famous 1968 book  The Population Bomb, is a common target of this criticism, although concern about rapid growth predated his book by many years. The concern over rapid population growth decades ago had a very sound basis. Birth rates in developing countries—where the concern was by far the greatest—were quite high and the use of family planning unknown. There really did seem to be no end in sight.

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“Exponential” Does NOT Mean “Fast”!

by Carl Haub, senior demographer, Population Reference Bureau

I’ve seen many occasions where writers have stated that a particular population is growing “exponentially.” That term seems to have evolved to mean “fast.”  The exponential rate—as opposed to percentage increase—is the one usually used to measure population growth. So let’s take a look at what it really means and, honestly, I’m definitely not being picky here. Exponential growth simply means that something, be it money in the bank or the population of Egypt, grows continuously. Compounding continuously is another way of saying it.

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