UK population increases 'due to migration' says expert

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The United Nations has announced the Earth is set to hit a major population milestone in the next few days. The UN Population Division has estimated on November 15 there will be 8 billion humans walking the planet, which is a staggering increase from a 2.5 billion population in 1950 just some 72 years ago. In just three decades’ time this is set to increase to 8.5 billion, and now experts are also saying with this will come an increase in the average life expectancy of up to 77.2 years in 2050.

By 2080, they believe the global population will peak at 10.4 billion, after which there is a 50 percent chance of a plateau or even decrease by 2100.

These predictions, however, are not universally agreed upon as more conservative models like the study published in Lancet in 2020, estimated the population would grow much slower, reaching 8.8 billion people by the end of the century.

Rachel Snow of the UN Population Fund noted that despite this increase, the rate at which the global population is growing has slowed down dramatically to reach below 1 percent.

The UN projects that this growth rate could fall further to around 0.5 percent by 2050, as fertility rates continue to decline from a peak in the 1950s.

The UN found that in 2021, the average fertility rate was 2.3 children per woman, with the figure projected to fall further to 2.1 by 2050, which is regarded as a replacement rate.

Ms Snow said: “We’ve reached a stage in the world where the majority of countries and the majority of people in this world are living in a country that is below replacement fertility.”

While the growth rate is falling, a driving factor for the increase in population is the fact that average life expectancy has grown steadily, reaching 72.8 years in 2019, nine years more than it was in 1990.

Together, the falling fertility rate and increased life expectancy means the number of people over 65 will rise from 10 percent in 2022 to 16 percent of the population by 2050.

However, these trends are not the same across the globe. While in some countries like Japan, the birth rate has begun to slow down, with other countries seeing a population boom. 

The UN predicts that by 2050, over half the population growth will stem from just eight countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

Ms Snow notes that even the average age differs drastically across regions, with the average age in Europe being 41.7 years, compared to the 17.6 years in years in Sub-Saharan Africa.

She said that this disparity “has never been as large as it is today”, however adding that numbers could even out, although with everyone have an older population on average.

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Improvements in public health led to the human population nearly quadrupling, something that has never happened before in recorded history, while contraception, the oral pill, and more women joining the workforce led to populations declining in developed countries.

Demographers like William Frey note that even in countries like the US, couples do not need to have more babies to boost the birth rate adding that immigrants, who are generally younger, can keep the population from ageing.

He said: “I don’t think in the US it’s an issue of collapse, because we can certainly open the faucet for more immigrants anytime we want to.

“We’ll have no paucity of people who want to come through the door to immigrate here in the future. Immigrants and their children are younger than the population as a whole and so that will help to keep the population from ageing as well.”

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