June 27th, 2012 | Posted in Population Basics
by Carolyn Lamere
“The seventh billion [person] was added in 12 years, and that could be the story for the eighth billion – and that gets people who think that growth has stopped,” said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau. Haub was joined by Hania Zlotnik, former director of the UN Population Division, and Rachel Nugent of the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health on June 5 to speak about the assumptions behind the UN population projections. While each of the panelists noted the utility of projections, they also cautioned against seeing them as inevitable.
Meeting the Projections
As a former top official in the UN’s Population Division, Zlotnik spoke about how much is riding on the projections. “The experts tell me that to feed nine billion people, living better than the standards of living that we have today, one needs to increase agricultural production or all the production of food by about 70 percent and that is a challenge, but it might be feasible. But if the numbers go higher…I think it’s impossible,” she said.
The medium variant projection by the UN that gets the world to that nine billion figure is not a given – it builds in expected action on and improvement of many demographic indicators. Zlotnik pointed to the global unmet need for family planning, for example, which “is especially high in the high fertility countries,” and suggested that the current rate of increase in contraceptive use is insufficient.
Read the rest of this post at The New Security Beat.
Watch a video of the event on The Wilson Center’s website.
Download PRB’s Carl Haub’s presentation, “Population Projections: Assumptions First, Results Second”