The world population reached 6.6 billion this year, up from 6 billion
in 1999. By 2025, researchers expect nearly 8 billion people will be
living on the planet. 99 percent of those new inhabitants will be in
Three million migrants are moving from poor
countries to wealthier ones each year, and increasingly, their destination
is a neighboring country in developing parts of the world. Those
statistics come from an annual demographic snapshot
of global population numbers and trends, produced by
the Population Reference Bureau.
Rachel Nugent, an economist with
the research group, points to the population shifts that are occurring now
from Bangladesh to Indian or from India, Egypt and Yemen to the Persian
She says people are moving within the developing world for the same
reasons they migrate to wealthier nations. "People from very poor
countries [are] going to less poor countries,people fleeing wars and
conflict." She adds that they are also responding to population pressures
because, she says, "Some countries are very densely populated, and they
often have high population growth. Those people need to go somewhere, and
they often are going looking for jobs."
Nugent says migration from
Guatemala to Mexico is one such example. "And many Guatemalans go to
Mexico, probably 25,000 a year that stay and 100,000 a year that go back
and forth. And that is a pretty high proportion of the Guatemalan
The United Nations projects that by 2050, the
population of Europe, now at 750 million, will fall by 75 million; and
Japan, home to 128 million people, will lose 16 million. Population
Reference Bureau senior demographer and survey author Carl Haub says a
shrinking population is a threat to economic health.
"The number of young people in many European countries is half of
the size of their parents' generation," he says. "So what you see today
are the corporations, the health care system in this country saying,
'Listen! We can't find workers. We haven't had enough workers and now we
can't find workers.' So they will have to have to come from some place and
that's going to have to come from outside the country."
The World Population Data Sheet also notes that although the prevalence
of HIV/AIDS is lower than previously estimated, it remains
catastrophically high in some sub-Saharan African countries. There is also
disappointing news about efforts to increase access to sanitation and safe
drinking water, as called for by the United Nations.
Rachel Nugent says that issue is one of several new environmental
indicators in this year's survey. "We can see that in rural areas in the
developing world and particularly in some parts of Africa and Asia we
don't have high rates of access to sanitation. That needs to be
addressed." Nugent says, "the other one is the percentage of land area
that is protected, which means protected for wildlife, protected
for plant biodiversity, and protected for the indigenous and other
populations that live nearby."
Report author Carl Haub says the
easy-to-read "World Population Data Sheet" is designed to raise awareness
among the public and public officials. "The numbers are there, and it's
always a question of whether politicians will pay any attention to them,'"
he says. "But the numbers are there. I think that some of the problems
with making the projections [is that] they are too far in the future. And,
a politician probably doesn't want to look past the next election. That is
something that they [the politicians] will have to get over."