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Global Population Pressures

- June 22, 2018
Will conflicts over resources spill across borders?
Featured Report

The world's population, currently 7.6 billion, is expected to peak later this century at 11.2 billion, and possibly much more, before slowly declining. Countries such as Japan and Germany already are seeing declines, but others, such as Niger and India, are projected to explode in population in coming years. Some experts downplay the potential effects of a rising global count, but many say strains on natural resources will be intense, leading to conflicts over land, water, food and energy, and sparking mass migrations from poorer to wealthier regions. Yet experts differ on how best to manage the world's population pressures. Some say that with greater access to contraception, women in developing countries will choose to have fewer children. Others say a better approach is to conserve precious natural resources by reducing personal consumption. Meanwhile, the Trump administration, following through on a campaign promise, has cut off U.S. funding for international family planning programs, triggering an outcry from some aid organizations.

Population Trends

Immigration is offsetting declining U.S. birth rates.

Technological Solutions

Concerns over diminishing resources are spurring innovation.

1800s–1940sPopulation growth accelerates rapidly; Industrial Revolution leads to overcrowded cities and a desire by some for smaller families, but new birth control methods stir controversy.
1960s–1970sAnnual global population growth rate peaks at more than 2 percent in the early 1960s; some international groups promoting birth control in developing countries are accused of funding abortions and sterilizations.
1980s–1990sWorld leaders debate links between population growth and development.
2000–PresentPopulation growth rate continues to decline; politicians seek to curtail funds for family planning.

Is population growth a major concern?


Roger-Mark de Souza
President and CEO, Sister Cities International.


Anne Hendrixson
Director, Population and Development Program, Hampshire College.


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