More and more people ringing in the New Year

The world’s population rose by 80 million people in 2013. By New Year’s Eve, an estimated 7.2 billion people inhabited our planet, reports the German development organisation Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung. By Elke Bunge.

Praesenz Schweiz

Population growth is steadily on the rise. The world’s population has more than doubled in the last 50 years. In 2014 alone it grew by 80 million people, nearly the population of Germany. While the numbers of Europeans is steadily declining – currently only 10 per cent of the world’s population and forecast to decrease to 7 per cent by 2050 – population growth is steadily increasing in developing countries. 15 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in Africa, and this number is expected to rise to 25 per cent by 2050.

Lack of access to birth control

The rapid increase in population growth in developing countries is largely due to a lack of access to birth control, according to the Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). This conclusion was also reached by Martha Campbell, president of the non-profit organisation Venture Strategies for Health and Development and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, who believes that the only way to stop or even reduce global population growth is through the strategic use birth control. This includes free access to birth control and freedom of choice. “Women today cannot access effective birth control in many countries, even though these same women would like to decide when and how many children they would like to have.”

One quarter of the 80 million pregnancies in developing countries each year is unintentional even today. “We need to continue to promote awareness among women, as oftentimes the Church or men have control over access to birth control,” says Martha Campbell. “We no longer find ourselves in the age of colonisation, and it is important that women themselves have the freedom to choose their birth control.” A good way forward is the example of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini made birth control widely available in order to stop population growth in his country, which grew by nearly one million people per year in the first years after the revolution. Widespread sex education before marriage and free birth control resulted in a birth rate that dropped from five and a half children to only two in this strict Muslim country.

Number of Africans increasing

If the world were a village with only 100 inhabitants, there would be 15 Africans, 60 Asians and 10 Europeans. By 2050 the number of people living in the village would rise to 136, of which there would be 34 Africans, 74 Asians and 10 Europeans. The proportion of Europeans and Asians within the total population is therefore expected to drop, while the proportion of Africans will rise by 15 per cent to one quarter of the total population.

9.6 billion people by 2050

According to DSW, 7.2 billion people are living on Earth as of 1 January. The United Nations predicts that the population will grow over the next 36 years to 9.6 billion people by 2050. Forecasted population growth has been constantly revised upwards in recent years. However, these calculations are also based on the assumption that the current birth rate of 2.56 children per year will drop to 2.02 by 2045. But should the birth rate actually increase by 0.5 per cent in these five years, this would result in a difference of 2.5 billion people. 2.5 billion – the world’s population back in 1950.

Photo credit: Image Switzerland

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