No, we’re not running out of people

No, we’re not running out of people


No shortage in sight.

Every few months we see a spate of “news” stories warning that population growth rates are declining in the U.S. and/or the world, potentially leading to a shortage of babies and outright “demographic disaster.” In an extreme (and extremely stupid) example from January of this year, one Slate writer warned that if trends continue over the long term, “we could be looking at the literal extinction of humanity.”

Well, you can strike that worry off your list, according to the latest stats from the U.N.

The Associated Press sums up the news:

The United Nations forecast Thursday that the world’s population will increase from 7.2 billion today to 8.1 billion in 2025, with most growth in developing countries and more than half in Africa. By 2050, it will reach 9.6 billion. …

The report found global fertility rates are falling rapidly, though not nearly fast enough to avoid a significant population jump over the next decades. In fact, the U.N. revised its population projection upward since its last report two years ago, mostly due to higher fertility projections in the countries with the most children per women. The previous projection had the global population reaching 9.3 billion people in 2050.

So those are the global figures, but what about the United States? Are we headed for a domestic baby shortage? Again, nope.

The U.S. population currently stands at 316 million. That figure is expected rise to 351 million by 2025, and then 401 million by 2050, according to the U.N.’s medium-range projections. That’s right in line with the U.S. Census Bureau’s projection.

“The right wing’s fevered vision of a planet populated only by tumbleweeds and wolves is not in the offing,” says John Seager, president of the nonprofit Population Connection.

So you can file away those fears about a demographic winter and worry instead about a really hot summer.

Lisa Hymas is senior editor at Grist. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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No, we’re not running out of people

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