World population: 7 billion

Added by on October 29, 2011

A 2009 estimate of population by country; the world's population is expected to hit 7bn by Oct 31

A United Nations report released earlier this week estimates that the world’s population is expected to reach seven billion in two days, by October 31. The report continues by estimating that the world’s total population could be at 10 billion by the end of this century.

The United Nations report represents a shift from asking whether there are too many people on Earth, to focusing instead on improving factors like health and education.

The report’s editor, Richard Kollodge, said, “We have a chance right now in our world of seven billion to build a more stable, more socially just world by the time we reach 10 billion but that requires us to act now”.

Among the challenges the world faces include the care of an increasing number of elderly people, 200m women that do not have access to family planning advice, expected water shortages, and the need for better urban planning as cities continue to grow.

Among the positive aspects, infants are less likely to die, the overall average number of children women have in their lifetime has decreased by more than half from 6 to 2.5, and average life expectancy has risen from 48 to 68 during the past 60 years.

The rate at which the world’s population has been growing continues to increase, based on the following milestones:

  • 1804 – 1 billion
  • 1927 – 123 years later: 2 billion
  • 1959 – 32 years later: 3 billion
  • 1974 – 15 years later: 4 billion
  • 1987 – 13 years later, 5 billion
  • 1999 – 12 year later: 6 billion
  • 2011 – 12 years later: 7 billion

The report concluded that many poor countries’ speed of population growth could hold back economic development, possibly trapping future generations in poverty and hunger.