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Within little more than a decade there are likely to be around 8.5 billion people on earth, and almost 10 billion by 2050, compared to 7.7 billion today. A small number of countries will account for most of the increase. While some countries continue to grow rapidly, others are seeing their populations decline. At the same time, the world is growing older, as global life expectancy continues to rise and the fertility level continues to fall. Such changes in the size and distribution of the world’s population have important consequences for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring that no one is left behind.

The following key findings are based on World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights, which presents the latest round of global population estimates and projections by the United Nations:

  1. The world’s population continues to increase, but growth rates vary greatly across regions
  2. Nine countries will make up more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050
  3. Rapid population growth presents challenges for sustainable development
  4. In some countries, growth of the working-age population is creating opportunities for economic growth
  5. Globally, women are having fewer babies, but fertility rates remain high in some parts of the world
  6. People are living longer, but those in the poorest countries still live 7 years less than the global average
  7. The world’s population is growing older, with persons over age 65 being the fastest-growing age group
  8. Falling proportions of working-age people are putting pressure on social protection systems
  9. A growing number of countries are experiencing a reduction in population size
  10. Migration has become a major component of population change in some countries
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