Planet’s population set to hit a new milestone

(Mains GS 2 : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)


  • According to an estimate from the United Nations, the world will have its 8 billionth living human being around mid of november.
  • When the milestone is reached, it will have taken the world a little less than half a century to double its population from 4 billion people in 1974.

The World Population Prospects 2022:

  • The projections suggest that the world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of around 10.4 billion in 2100.  
  • Globally, life expectancy reached 72.8 years in 2019, an increase of almost 9 years since 1990 and further reductions in mortality are projected to result in an average longevity of around 77.2 years globally in 2050.
  • Life expectancy at birth for women exceeded that for men by 5.4 years globally, with female and male life expectancy standing at 73.8 and 68.4, respectively.

Below replacement rate:

  • The UN projects the world’s population to hit a peak of 10.4 billion in the 2080s and afterwards the negative effect of falling fertility rates on population growth is projected to kick in.
  • Global fertility rates have declined since the 1950s, from around 4.5 births per woman to below 2.4 births per woman in 2020, and it is expected to drop below the replacement fertility rate soon.
  • The replacement fertility rate, which is 2.1 births per woman, is the minimum required to simply maintain the human population but two-thirds of the world population lives in countries where fertility rates are below replacement rate.

Not relevant today:

  • Aamid sharply falling fertility levels and the clear risk of a shrinking human population, the consensus view today is that the human population hitting 8 billion is a cause for worry following the malthusian principles.
  • Malthus argued that rising human population would put enormous pressure on the earth’s limited resources and that nature would keep a check on it.
  • Whenever the human population surpassed the earth’s ability to feed them, he predicted, famines would wipe out enough people to restore equilibrium.
  • Malthus, in effect, believed that humanity’s failure to keep its population in check would lead to poor living standards.
  • But today, more than two centuries since Malthus’s prediction, the earth’s population is eight times what it was when Malthus made his dire predictions and living standards have improved massively.

Advocating private property:

  • Population doomsayers are proven wrong time and again as the strong financial incentives that the market economy offers to people across the globe to preserve the earth’s scarce resources and also to extract the most out of these scarce resources.
  • Many environmentalists often argue that private ownership of scarce resources will lead to the overexploitation and the quick depletion of these resources.
  • But the fact remains that secure property rights actually offer property owners a strong incentive to exploit resources sustainably over a long period of time in order to maximise returns.
  • When secure property rights which are guaranteed by independent courts and police are absent, people will simply opt to plunder resources quickly.
  • Private property ownership also ensures that there is a strong financial incentive for property owners to exploit resources most efficiently.
  • This ensures that humankind can extract more output out of the same resources, thus helping to sustain larger populations at higher standards of living.


  • A human civilisation of 8 billion people is a lot more likely to come up with the next big cost-saving discovery or innovation than a hypothetical small global population of a few million people.
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