Population growth

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Estimated size of human population from 10,000 BCE–2000 CE.

Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement. In biology, the term population growth is likely to refer to any known organism, but this article deals mostly with the application of the term to human populations in demography.

Population growth rates might have declined, but in 2013 every 60 minutes there are another 8,000 people in the world: about 75 million every year.[1]

In demography, population growth is used informally for the more specific term population growth rate (see below), and is often used to refer specifically to the growth of the human population of the world.

Simple models of population growth include the Malthusian Growth Model and the logistic model.

The world population grew from 1 billion to 7 billion from 1800 to 2011. During the year 2011, according to estimates, 135 million people were born and 57 million died, for an increase in population of 78 million.[2]

Years PassedYearBillion
United Nations Population Fund
estimate 31.10.2011

Determinants of population growth[edit]

Four factors determine population growth for a given geographical area - births (B), deaths (D), immigration rate (I), and emigration rate (E):

growth rate of population = (B-D)+(I-E)

In other words, the population growth of a period can be calculated in two parts, natural growth of population (B-D) and mechanical growth of population (I-E), in which mechanical growth of population is mainly affected by social factors, e.g. advanced economies may grow faster while backward economies grow slowly or even experience negative growth. (Growth can be both positive or negative i.e. growth can increase or decrease.)

Population growth rate[edit]

In demographics and ecology, the "population growth rate" is the rate at which the number of individuals in a population increases in a given time period as a fraction of the initial population. Specifically, population growth rate refers to the change in population over a unit time period, often expressed as a percentage of the number of individuals in the population at the beginning of that period. This can be written as the formula:

pop\ growth\ rate = \frac{ P(t_2)  -  P(t_1)} {P(t_1)}

The most common way to express population growth is as a percentage. That is:

\mathrm{percentage\ growth} = \mathrm{pop\ growth\ rate} \times 100.

A positive growth ratio (or rate) indicates that the population is increasing, while a negative growth ratio indicates the population is decreasing. A growth ratio of zero indicates that there were the same number of people at the two times—net difference between births, deaths a growth rate may be zero even when there are significant changes in the birth rates, death rates, immigration rates, and age distribution between the two times.[3]

A related measure is the net reproduction rate. In the absence of migration, a net reproduction rate of more than one indicates that the population of women is increasing, while a net reproduction rate less than one (sub-replacement fertility) indicates that the population of women is decreasing.

Excessive growth and decline[edit]

Population exceeding the carrying capacity of an area or environment is called overpopulation. It may be caused by growth in population or by reduction in capacity. Spikes in human population can cause problems such as pollution and traffic congestion, these might be resolved or worsened by technological and economic changes. Conversely, such areas may be considered "underpopulated" if the population is not large enough to maintain an economic system (see population decline). Between these two extremes sits the notion of the optimum population.

Human population growth rate[edit]

Annual population growth rate in percent, as listed in the CIA World Factbook (2013 estimate).[4]
Growth rate of world population (1950–2050)
Population of the world from 10,000 BCE to 2000 CE (logarithmic scale)

Globally, the growth rate of the human population has been declining since peaking in 1962 and 1963 at 2.20% per annum. In 2009, the estimated annual growth rate was 1.1%.[5] The CIA World Factbook gives the world annual birthrate, mortality rate, and growth rate as 1.89%, 0.79%, and 1.096% respectively.[6] The last 100 years have seen a rapid increase in population due to medical advances and massive increase in agricultural productivity[7] made possible by the Green Revolution.[8][9][10]

The trend is shown in the graph at right. Actual measured data are given to 2010 and extrapolated estimates beyond that. If the linear trend holds and growth rate continues to decline, population growth rate will fall to zero in about 2080. Population will peak and begin declining thereafter. The Malthus exponential model, modified to reflect the linear growth rate trend, suggests that world population will peak at about 10.3 billion. This, of course, is speculative but is consistent with other models showing a population peak in the latter part of the 21st century.

The actual annual growth in the number of humans fell from its peak of 88.0 million in 1989, to a low of 73.9 million in 2003, after which it rose again to 75.2 million in 2006. Since then, annual growth has declined. In 2009, the human population increased by 74.6 million, which is projected to fall steadily to about 41 million per annum in 2050, at which time the population will have increased to about 9.2 billion.[5] Each region of the globe has seen great reductions in growth rate in recent decades, though growth rates remain above 2% in some countries of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, and also in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.[11]

Some countries experience negative population growth, especially in Eastern Europe mainly due to low fertility rates, high death rates and emigration. In Southern Africa, growth is slowing due to the high number of HIV-related deaths. Some Western Europe countries might also encounter negative population growth.[12] Japan's population began decreasing in 2005.[13] The United Nations Population Division expects world population to peak at over 10 billion at the end of the 21st century but Sanjeev Sanyal has argued that global fertility will fall below replacement rates in the 2020s and that world population will peak below 9 billion by 2050 followed by a long decline.[14]

Growth by country[edit]

According to United Nations population statistics, the world population grew by 30%, or 1.6 billion people, between 1990 and 2010.[15] In number of people the increase was highest in India 350 million and China 196 million. Population growth was among highest in the United Arab Emirates (315%) and Qatar (271%).[15]

Growth rates of the world's most populous countries
Growth (%)
1 China1,341,335,0001,145,195,00017.1%
2 India1,224,614,000873,785,00040.2%
3 United States310,384,000253,339,00022.5%
4 Indonesia239,871,000184,346,00030.1%
5 Brazil194,946,000149,650,00030.3%
6 Pakistan173,593,000111,845,00055.3%
7 Nigeria158,423,00097,552,00062.4%
8 Bangladesh148,692,000105,256,00041.3%
9 Russia142,958,000148,244,000-3.6%
10 Japan128,057,000122,251,0004.7%

1960s to 2010 table of population growth[edit]

Population growth 1990–2008 (%)[16]
Middle East51%
Latin America30%
OECD North America24%
OECD Europe9%
OECD Pacific8%
Former Soviet Union−1%
Non-OECD Europe−11%

Many of the world's countries, including many in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia, have seen a sharp rise in population since the end of the Cold War. The fear is that high population numbers are putting further strain on natural resources, food supplies, fuel supplies, employment, housing, etc. in some the less fortunate countries. For example, the population of Chad has ultimately grown from 6,279,921 in 1993 to 10,329,208 in 2009,[17] further straining its resources. Vietnam, Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the DRC are witnessing a similar growth in population.

The situation was most acute in northern, western and central Africa. Refugees from places like the Sudan have helped further strain the resources of neighbouring states like Chad and Egypt. The nation is also host to roughly 255,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, and about 77,000 refugees from the Central African Republic, while approximately 188,000 Chadians have been displaced by their own civil war and famines, have either fled to either the Sudan, the Niger, or more recently, Libya.

Example nation1st Population total.2nd Population total.3rd Population total.4th Population total.5th Population total.Life expectancy in years.Total population growth from 1st Pop. Total to 5th Pop. Total.
Eritrea*N/A*N/A*3,437,000(1994)[18]4,298,269 (2002)5,673,520 (2008)[19]61 (2008)[20]2,236,520 (since independence)
Ethiopia*23,457,000(1967)*[21]50,974,000(1990)* [22]54,939,000(1994) [18]67,673,031(2003)79,221,000(2008)[23]55(2008)[20]55,764,000
Sudan**14,355,000(1967)**[21]25,204,000(1990)** [22]27,361,000 (1994)**[18]38,114,160 (2003)**42,272,000(2008)**[24]50(2008)**[20]27,917,000
Chad3,410,000(1967)[21]5,679,000(1990) [22]6,183,000 (1994)[18]9,253,493(2003)10,329,208 (2009)[17]47(2008)[20]6,919,205
Niger3,546,000(1967)[21]7,732,000(1990) [22]8,846,000(1994)[18]10,790,352 (2001)15,306,252 (2009)[25]44 (2008)[20]11,760,252
Nigeria61,450,000(1967)[21]88,500,000(1990) [22]108,467,000 (1994)[18]129,934,911 (2002)158,259,000 (2008)[26]47(2008)[20]96,809,000
Mauritania1,050,000(1967)[21]2,025,000(1990) [22]2,211,000 (1994)[18]2,667,859 (2003)3,291,000 (2009)[17]54(2008)[20]2,241,000
Senegal3,607,000(1967)[21]7,327,000(1990) [22]8,102,000 (1994) [18]9,967,215(2002)13,711,597 (2009)[28]57(2008)[20]10,104,597
Gambia343,000(1967)[21]861,000(1990) [22]1,081,000 (1994)[18]1,367,124 (2000)1,705,000(2008)[26]55(2008)[20]1,362,000
Algeria11,833,126 (1966)[21]25,012,000 (1990) [22]27,325,000 (1994) [18]32,818,500 (2003)34,895,000[23][29](2008)74 (2008)[20]23,061,874
The DRC/Zaire16,353,000(1967)[21]35,562,000 (1990) [22]42,552,000 (1994) [18]55,225,478 (2003)70,916,439 (2008) [23][30]54(2008)[20]54,563,439
Egypt30,083,419 (1966)[21]53,153,000 (1990) [22]58,326,000 (1994) [18]70,712,345 (2003)79,089,650 [31][31] (2008) [23]72 (2008)[20]49,006,231
Réunion (French colony)418,000 (1967)[21]N/A (1990) [22]N/A (1994)[18]720,934 (2003)827,000 (2009) [29]N/A (2008)[20]409,000
The Falkland Islands (UK Territory)2,500(1967)[21]N/A (1990) [22]N/A (1994)[18]2,967 (2003)3,140(2010)[17]N/A (2008)[20]640
Chile8,935,500(1967)[21]13,173,000 (1990) [22]13,994,000(1994)[18]15,116,435 (2002)17,224,200 (2011)77 (2008)[20]8,288,700
Colombia19,191,000(1967)[21]32,987,000(1990) [22]34,520,000(1994)[18]41,088,227 (2002)45,925,397(2010)[32]73 (2008)[20]26,734,397
Brazil85,655,000(1967)[21]150,368,000 (1990) [22]153,725,000 (1994)[18]174,468,575 (2000)190,732,694(2010) [33]72(2008)[20]105,077,694
Mexico45,671,000(1967)[21]86,154,000(1990) [22]93,008,000(1994)[18]103,400,165 (2000)112,322,757(2010)[34]76(2008)[20]66,651,757
Fiji476,727 (1966)[21]765,000(1990) [22]771,000 (1994)[18]844,330 (2001)849,000[29] (2010)70 (2008)[20]372,273
Nauru6,050(1966)[21]10,000(1990) [22]N/A (1994)[18]12,329 (2002)9,322 (2011)[35]N/A (2008)[20]3,272
Jamaican1,876,000 (1967)[21]2,420,000 (1990) [22]2,429,000 (1994)[18]2,695,867 (2003)2,847,232[36](2010)74 (2008)[20]971,232
Australia11,540,764 (1964)[21]17,086,000 (1990) [22]17,843,000 (1994)[18]19,546,792 (2003)23,474,835[37] (2010)82 (2008)[20]11,066,508
Albania1,965,500(1964)[21]3,250,000 (1990) [22]3,414,000 (1994)[18]3,510,484 (2002)2,986,952 (July 2010 est.)[17][38] (2010)78 (2008)[20]1,021,452
Poland31,944,000(1967)[21]38,180,000 (1990) [22]38,554,000 (1994)[18]38,626,349 (2001)38,192,000(2010)[39]75 (2008)[20]6,248,000
Hungary10,212,000(1967)[21]10,553,000 (1990) [22]10,261,000 (1994)[18]10,106,017 (2002)9,979,000(2010)[40]73 (2008)[20]-142,000
Bulgaria8,226,564(1965)[21]8,980,000 (1990) [22]8,443,000 (1994)[18]7,707,495(2000)7,351,234 (2011)[41]73 (2008)[20]-875,330
UK55,068,000 (1966)[21]57,411,000 (1990) [22]58,091,000 (1994) [18]58,789,194 (2002)62,008,048 (2010)[42]79(2008)[20]7,020,048
Ireland/Éire2,884,002(1966)[21]3,503,000(1990) [22]3,571,000 (1994)[18]3,840,838 (2000)4,470,700 [43] (2010)78 (2008)[20]1,586,698
The PRC/China720,000,000(1967)[21]1,139,060,000(1990) [22]1,208,841,000 (1994)[18]1,286,975,468 (2004)1,339,724,852(2010)[44]73 (2008)[20]619,724,852
Japan***98,274,961(1965)[21]123,537,000(1990) [22]124,961,000 (1994)[18]127,333,002 (2002)127,420,000 (2010)[45]82(2008)[20]28,123,865
Ryukyu Islands (Once occupied by the US)***934,176(1965)[21]
India#511,115,000 (1967)[21]843,931,000 (1990) [22]918,570,000 (1994)[18]1,028,610,328 (2001)1,210,193,422(2011)[46]69 (2008)[20]699,078,422
* Eritrea left Ethiopia in 1991.
** Split into the nations of Sudan and Southern Sudan during 2011.
*** Merged in 1972.
# Merged in 1975.

Into the future[edit]

According to UN's 2010 revision to its population projections, world population will peak at 10.1bn in 2100 compared to 7bn in 2011.[47] However, some experts dispute the UN's forecast and have argued that birthrates will fall below replacement rate in the 2020s. According to these forecasters, population growth will be only sustained till the 2040s by rising longevity but will peak below 9bn by 2050.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Typhoon Haiyan: there is worse to come, The first disaster to kill more than a million people could happen within our lifetimes The Guardian, Monday 11 November 2013
  2. ^ a b 7. miljardis ihminen, Helsingin Sanomat editor Mr Timo Paukku 5.9.2011 D1 (Finnish)
  3. ^ Association of Public Health Epidemiologists in Ontario
  4. ^ Population growth rate
  5. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau, January 2010
  6. ^ World Factbook
  7. ^ BBC NEWS | The end of India's green revolution?
  8. ^ Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
  9. ^ Rising food prices curb aid to global poor
  10. ^ Record rise in wheat price prompts UN official to warn that surge in food prices may trigger social unrest in developing countries
  11. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, June 2009
  12. ^ UN population projections
  13. ^ Japan sees biggest population fall
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ a b World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision
  16. ^ CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion Population 1971–2008 IEA
  17. ^ a b c d e "Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)". CIA. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af The British Collins Longman Student Atlas, the 1996 and in 1998 publications, ISBN 978-0-00-448879-0 for the 1998 edition, ISBN 0-00-448365-0 for the 1996 edition
  19. ^ url=http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af 'Modern School Atlas (96th edition)', ISBN 978-1-84907-013-3.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af The British Oxford economic atlas of the World 4th edition, ISBN 0-19-894107-2
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae The British Collins Atlas of the World, the 1993 edition, ISBN 0-00-448038-4
  23. ^ a b c d Ethiopia Central Statistics Office -- Population Projection for mid-2008
  24. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs. World Population Prospects, Table A.1 (PDF). 2008 revision. United Nations. 
  25. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2009). "Niger". The World Factbook. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009). World Population Prospects, Table A.1 (PDF). 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  27. ^ "Mali preliminary 2009 census". Institut National de la Statistique. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  28. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2009). "Senegal". The World Factbook. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  29. ^ a b c Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2010). World Population Prospects, Table A.1 (PDF). 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. [dead link]
  30. ^ The World Factbook- Congo, Democratic Republic of the. Central Intelligence Agency.
  31. ^ a b "Central Agency for Population Mobilisation and Statistics — Population Clock (July 2008)". Msrintranet.capmas.gov.eg. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  32. ^ "Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística". Dane.gov.co. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  33. ^ IBGE. Censo 2010: população do Brasil é de 190.732.694 pessoas.
  34. ^ "INEGI 2010 Census Statistics". inegi.org.mx. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  35. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2011). "Nauru". The World Factbook. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  36. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jm.html
  37. ^ "Population clock". Australian Bureau of Statistics website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 12 April 2011.  The population estimate shown is automatically calculated daily at 00:00 UTC and is based on data obtained from the population clock on the date shown in the citation.
  38. ^ Population Forecast to 2060 by International Futures hosted by Google Public Data Explorer
  39. ^ "Wzrasta liczba ludności Polski - Wiadomości - WP.PL". Wiadomosci.wp.pl. 2010-07-23. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  40. ^ Hungarian Central Statistical Office. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  41. ^ http://www.nsi.bg/EPDOCS/Census2011pr.pdf
  42. ^ "Total population at 1 January". Eurostat. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  43. ^ "CSO – Population and Migration Estimates April 2010" (PDF). September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  44. ^ Communiqué of the National Bureau of Statistics of People's Republic of China on Major Figures of the 2010 Population Census
  45. ^ Official Japan Statistics Bureau estimate
  46. ^ "Provisional Population Totals - Census 2011". Indian Census Bureau 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  47. ^ http://esa.un.org/wpp/Documentation/publications.htm
  48. ^ http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-end-of-population-growth

External links[edit]