Global Population Pressures

June 22, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 23
Will conflicts over resources spill across borders?
By Susan Straight


People throng the crowded streets of Bangalore, India, on June 30, 2017 (Cover: Getty Images/Hindustan Times/Arijit Sen)
People throng the crowded streets of Bangalore, India, on June 30, 2017. Today, China has about 61 million more inhabitants than India, but by 2050 India is expected to be the world's most populous nation, with nearly 1.7 billion people, or 17 percent of the global total. (Cover: Getty Images/Hindustan Times/Arijit Sen)

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.

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
Aging Issues
Air Pollution
Biology and Life Sciences
Climate Change
Conflicts in Africa
Conflicts in Asia
Earth Sciences
Humanitarian Assistance
Land Resources and Property Rights
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Religion and Politics
Renewable Energy Resources and Alternative Fuels
Water Resources
Women's Health Issues