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World Population Expected to Reach 9.7 Billion by 2050

SOURCE: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

By Rachel Becker, National Geographic

Graphics by Emily M. Eng, Mariya Khan, National Geographic

PUBLISHED July 31, 2015

The United Nations released projections of global population growth over the coming century. In the year 2100, the world’s demographics will look very different from today’s.

-2014 Estimate

-2015 Estimate

Data Points is a new series where we explore the world of data visualization, information graphics, and cartography.

People of the future will need to learn to love their neighbors. The latest predictions for population growth from the United Nations indicate the Earth will be more crowded than previously thought.

The global population is currently about 7.3 billion. The UN estimates that by 2050, that number will grow to 9.7 billion. By 2100, 11.2 billion people will have to cram together on the Earth’s surface.

These estimates outstrip last year’s projections by around 150 million people.


The biggest increase in population will happen in Africa, with Asia following in second.

There’s some wiggle room, though. The UN says there’s an 80 percent chance that the population could be as low as 9.4 or as high as 10 billion in 2050. The agency is basing this on a formula called the ‘medium projection variant,’ which basically assumes that the fertility patterns of the future will resemble those of the past.

It’s not an increase in fertility that’s driving the growth. It’s longer lifespans. Globally, people born today are expected to live to age 70, but people born in 2050 will live to age 77. Their grandkids born in 2100 will live even longer: 83 years.

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