January 19, 2023
TOKYO – The United Nations announced last November that the world’s population had reached 8 billion people. Growth will continue, according to the U.N. report on world population estimates, reaching approximately 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100.
By region, the population of East and Southeast Asia, including Japan and China, will be in decline by 2050, while growth will continue in Africa and Central and South Asia, including India.
However, a different picture emerges if we look at the total fertility rate, which indicates the estimated number of children a woman will have during her lifetime.
A total fertility rate of around 2.1 is considered necessary to maintain a population size, but the global average, which was 2.3 in 2021, will drop to 2.1 by 2050. About two-thirds of the world’s population is estimated to already live in countries and regions with fertility rates of 2.1 or lower, and the pace of population growth will slow due to declining birthrates.
Fertility rates tend to decline with economic development, as housing costs soar and the cost of education increases as more people receive higher education. Japan’s total fertility rate fell below 2.1 in the 1970s and declined to 1.3 in 2021.
According to 2020 data from the World Bank, rates tend to be low in East Asia, with 1.3 in China, 0.8 in South Korea and 0.9 in Hong Kong.
“Societies tend to shift to having fewer children following a decline in infant mortality due to the development of medical technologies,” said Keio University Prof. Futoshi Ishii, who specializes in demography. “In East Asia, the transition appears to have ended and the birthrate is declining.”