UN drops global population projections by 400 million

UN drops global population projections by 400 million

Joseph Chamie of Population Division
The United Nations today lowered by 400 million the global population projections it made two years ago, reflecting a higher death rate due to HIV/AIDS and a reduction in fertility levels.

A report released today by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) projects that by 2050, there will be 8.9 billion people globally, a drop from the 9.3 billion previously stated in its 2000 forecast.

The report attributes the lower figure in part to a worsening of the effect of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in terms of increased morbidity, mortality and population loss. Although the probability of being infected by HIV is assumed to decline significantly in the future, the long-term impact of the epidemic remains dire, with 278 million more people expected to die of AIDS by 2050.

"HIV/AIDS is a disease of mass destruction," Joseph Chamie, Director of the Population Division, said today at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York to launch the report. He added that the deaths due to the AIDS epidemic were many times greater than any military conflicts in the past 10 years.

The report also states that despite the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the populations of the affected countries are generally expected to be larger by mid-century than today, mainly because most of them maintain moderate fertility levels.

However, for the first time ever, the Division forecasts that future fertility levels in most developing countries will fall to 2.1 per woman, the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of the population. By 2050, three out of every four countries in the less developed regions will be experiencing below-replacement fertility.