World population took '12 years' to grow from 7bn to 8bn - and the next billion could take longer

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People walking through a market in Bangalore on 23 October 2022. According to the UNFPA, it took 12 years for the world's population to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion.
People walking through a market in Bangalore on 23 October 2022. According to the UNFPA, it took 12 years for the world's population to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion.
PHOTO: Manjunath Kiran/AFP
  • There are now officially at least 8 billion people on Earth.
  • Stats SA and the United Nations Population Fund says it took 12 years to move from 7 billion to 8 billion.
  • It is expected that the next billion will be reached in 14 and a half years.

Eight billion people now inhabit the Earth.

On Tuesday, Statistics SA (Stats SA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) marked the growth of the world's population to 8 billion.

The UNFPA's Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi said it was "remarkable" that an additional one billion people had been recorded between 2010 and 2022.

"This is a growth of 1 billion from 2010, so it has taken us 12 years to add on another billion. We believe that this is a remarkable marathon, given that the human population numbered under one billion for millennia, until 1800. It then took more than a 100 years to grow from one billion to two billion.

"So, the world population continues to grow, but the pace of growth is slowing down. It took about 12 years for the world population to grow from seven to eight billion. But, the next billion is expected to take 14 and a half years, and that will be by 2037."

Ndyanabangi said the global population was expected to reach a peak of about 10 billion between 2080 and 2100.

"We believe that this is a success story and not a doomsday scenario. Our world, despite its challenges, is one where higher shares of people are educated and live healthier lives. If we look at the African continent, for example, the death of infants declined by 81% and maternal death by 37% between 2000 and 2020."

Quality of life

He said it was important for the world to continue with sexual and reproductive rights education.

"As we celebrate 8 billion, almost one-fifth of the global population live on the African continent. We need to empower this population and help them invest in education, health, gender equality and access to decent work."

"Instead of fearing population increases or declines, the world has to ensure a quality of life for each of the 8 billion individuals now living on earth in all their diversity."

South Africa has a population of around 60.8 million, making it the 25th most populous country in the world.

Ndyanabangi said this was "a sweet spot".

"This means South Africa has a highly favourable age distribution profile with a large youthful, working age population and proportionally fewer very old and very young children."

Diego Iturralde, Chief Director for Demography and Population Statistics at Stats SA, said the growth to eight billion did not mean a demographic collapse.

"[The] population will continue to grow for a few more years to come. There are declining growth rates across the world … there are however regional differences. We see that within the next billion, most growth will come from eight countries – five of these countries are in Africa, three of them in Asia."

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