The UN released its revised World Population Prospects over the summer, which identified November 15, 2022, as the date that the global population will cross 8 billion. Since then, our Communications staff have been hard at work reporting on the latest projections, answering inquiries about what this demographic milestone means for people and our planet, and sharing the news far and wide through our digital channels.
During this interactive session with our Communications team, we learned more about key takeaways from the UN’s latest population projections and discussed how to share this information with your communities.
Population Growth and Development
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News Coverage, Op-Eds, and LTEs
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Tips for Discussing Population Issues
Population Connection is unequivocally pro-choice.
We don’t work directly on children’s education in the way that this question-asker probably meant it, but, of course, we reach an estimated 3 million K-12 students in North America each year with our Population Education curriculum materials.
We don’t work on any specific environmental policies because there are so many organizations doing that, but no other organizations working at the grassroots level on population issues. We do, of course, recognize that consumption patterns need to be adjusted downward in high-income countries, including the consumption of fossil fuels.
And believe it or not, we don’t count heads, as we’re not a census-taking organization! We educate and advocate on the connections between population growth and all of the health, environment, and social justice issues and the need to stabilize the world population at a level that can be sustained by the planet for generations to come.
Ensure that everyone who wants to use effective contraception has affordable access and knows how to use their chosen method effectively.
More compassion. A human-rights-driven approach with a greater focus on women’s empowerment.
It’s okay to have your own personal opinions about the decisions other individuals make for themselves. But keep in mind that many women around the world are not in charge of how many children they have, either because they don’t have access to affordable or reliable birth control, their birth control fails, they are in a relationship where they have no decision-making power, etc. And regardless of how you personally feel, consider what you would like to have happen to stop people from having more than two children. Would you want to live in a world that operated the way China did during its one-child policy, with people being forcibly sterilized, having their pregnancies terminated without their consent, or penalized in ways that hurt their children? We wouldn’t!
This still has the same top-down connotation that “population control” has, implying that governments should be “managing” the personal decisions people make about their own fertility in the name of slowing population growth. We believe that everyone should be able to make their own reproductive decisions, without interference from government—whether that means having fewer or no children or having a large number of children. Fortunately, for the sake of achieving sustainable development goals, when women are given complete control over their own fertility, they have, on average, small families.
There’s a bill in both houses of Congress that would end the Global Gag Rule permanently, called the Global HER Act. Currently, the Global Gag Rule is an executive action, meaning that the president can decide on his (so far, it’s always been a man) own whether to enact or rescind the policy. And every time the presidency switches parties, that happens, with Republicans reinstating it and Democrats rescinding it. The Global HER Act would legislatively repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.
With forceful opposition! We are heavily involved in attempts to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would basically codify Roe, resuming the right to abortion nationwide. Population Connection Action Fund, the sister organization of Population Connection, has been working this entire election cycle to keep incumbent candidates in office who support abortion rights and to replace the ones who don’t. In the meantime, while abortion rights are being decided at the state level, it’s incredibly important to stay informed about the positions of the legislatures and governors in the state where you live and make a ruckus if an abortion ban is introduced and/or signed into law.
Please see answer above.
The UN Population Division’s medium (most likely) projection is that the world population will peak in 2086 at 10.4 billion, before beginning a slow decline.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will reach 400 million in 2058. The UN Population Division, by contrast, projects that the U.S. population will be 380 million in 2058 and 394 million in 2100 (and still growing).
Economic policies can be adjusted, planetary limits cannot. Our current economic structure is relatively new and can be changed to fit our demographic reality.
Additionally, there are many people who would like to be part of the labor force but are left out due to caregiving duties, disability, place of residence, etc. We should include them and offer flexible schedules and workplace accommodations.
Life expectancy at age 65 has increased by about 6 years since 1950 (Social Security was first introduced in 1935, when life expectancy was even lower). Population Connection doesn’t have an official policy on retirement age, but the increase in the number of years the average person is expected to live in retirement warrants consideration. Greater investment in preventive healthcare is key to keep older people healthy and capable of participating in society.
And yes, look at Japan —a rapidly aging country that is coping just fine. If things get bad, they could relax their borders a little and allow the immigration of young people.
UN population projections are based on historical data, so a fair amount of assumptions are used to form the basis of our understandings about the growth trajectory of populations, fertility declines, and so on. The impacts of climate change, like those of the pandemic, are very relevant to this discussion, no doubt, but it’s just not possible to accurately predict how climate change will impact population dynamics. We don’t yet know how much the planet will warm (although it’s not looking good), how bad the impacts will be, and how these will affect fertility and death rates.
Not that we’re aware of.
One of the most important relationships between population and the environment is between consumption rates (and environmental impact) and level of affluence. Globally, increases in affluence augment resource use and pollutant emissions. This relationship exists because our economies rely upon consumption to thrive; not because a better standard of living inherently destroys the environment. Here’s an article from Nature Communications for more info.
Yes, the Gates Foundation is a large international family planning donor. The foundation is the founder and major sponsor of the International Conference on Family Planning, which is happening next week (November 14-17), in Thailand. Four of our staff and one of our board members will be there, hosting an exhibit booth and speaking on a panel!
No, but the African Population and Health Research Center is in Nairobi, so they might!
This is beyond our scope. We’re focused on increasing access to comprehensive, quality reproductive health care and meeting unmet needs for voluntary family planning globally.
Immigration is a very complex topic with major ethical implications. The climate crisis and worsening resource shortage are expected to displace many more people, so this is not the time to advocate for tighter borders. In addition, movement of people from high- to low-fertility countries can actually help slow global population growth as people tend to adjust their family size ideals to local norms.
The best way to limit migration is by reducing the push factors that force people to leave their home countries. So more foreign aid and the development of policies that alleviate poverty, reduce emissions, build climate resilience, advance gender equality, etc.
In terms of limiting overconsumption, we need to do just that, and not rely on limiting population size alone. The U.S. is one of the worst over consumers in the world — according to the Global Footprint Network, if everyone lived like the average U.S. citizen, we’d need five Earths to sustain our demand without destroying the environment. We all need to take responsibility and do what we can to shrink our individual footprints, including reducing our consumption of animal products, flying and driving less, etc. Policy change that would facilitate this necessary behavior change, for example, more affordable/accessible public transport, is key too. Governments need to lead the way in reducing overconsumption, but we all have a part to play.