(BOSTON, Mass) – There is a report out from the Harvard School of Public Health indicating that the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion by the end of 2011. The 6 billion mark was reached in 1999 and it’s expected that an additional 2.3 billion people will be added to the population by 2050 -- an increase by nearly as many people as the number that lived on the planet in the 1950s.
The reports predict that over the next forty years, nearly all of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, leaving fewer working-age adults to support the retirees living on social pensions.
This is especially notable when taking in to account how slowly the worlds population has grown for most of human history. It took until 1800 for the world’s population to hit one billion.
These sizable increases represent an unprecedented global demographic upheaval, according to David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health. In a review article published July 29th, 2011 in Science, Bloom writes that considerable uncertainty about these projections remains. Depending on whether the number of births per woman continues to decline, the ranges for 2050 vary from 8.1 to 10.6 billion, and the 2100 projections vary from 6.2 to 15.8 billion.
He writes, population trends indicate a shift in the "demographic center of gravity" from more to less developed regions. Already strained, many developing countries will likely face tremendous difficulties in supplying food, water, housing, and energy to their growing populations, with repercussions for health, security, and economic growth.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio