Global Population Growth

January 16, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 3
Can the planet support another 4 billion people?
By Jennifer Weeks


A teeming street in New Delhi reflects the growth of India's population (AFP/Getty Images/Raveendran)
A teeming street in New Delhi reflects the growth of India's population, now 1.3 billion. The country is expected to surpass China as the world's most populous nation in about 2030. Population growth threatens economic progress in many developing countries, and demographers say Earth's population could rise to nearly 11 billion by 2100. (AFP/Getty Images/Raveendran)

The world's population, now about 7.2 billion people, could rise to nearly 11 billion or more by 2100, according to some estimates, with nearly all the growth in developing countries. Agricultural specialists worry about how the planet would feed 4 billion more people, and environmentalists say humans already are consuming natural resources at unsustainable rates. Expanding populations also create social pressure, especially in fast-growing nations that cannot generate enough jobs for their citizens. In some regions, notably sub-Saharan Africa, population growth is slowing progress toward key development goals, such as expanding education and improving maternal and child health. To address these challenges, wealthy donors are stepping up efforts to provide family planning to all who want it, and many advocates are calling for greater focus on women's rights, including the right to decide whether and when to have children. But the Catholic Church and other conservative groups say global population policy is too focused on birth control and instead should emphasize valuing and protecting life and raising people out of poverty.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jun. 22, 2018  Global Population Pressures
Jan. 16, 2015  Global Population Growth
Nov. 16, 2012  Changing Demographics
Nov. 21, 2008  Declining Birthrates
Jul. 17, 1998  Population and the Environment
Jul. 16, 1993  Population Growth
Oct. 26, 1984  Feeding a Growing World
Aug. 02, 1974  World Population Year
Nov. 24, 1971  Zero Population Growth
Nov. 01, 1967  Population Profile of the United States
Aug. 15, 1962  Population Control
Jun. 13, 1952  Overpopulation
Mar. 10, 1930  Population Problems
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Agriculture and the Environment
Climate Change
Global Issues
Maternal and Child Health Care
Population Control
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Wildlife and Endangered Species