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Senior Citizens To Outnumber Those Below 18 By 2080 Globally: UN Report

One in four people globally lives in a country whose population has already peaked in size

New Delhi:
The UN World Population Prospects report said the world’s population will peak in the mid-2080s, growing over the next 60 years from 8.2 billion people now to 10.3 billion in the mid-2080s, and will return to 10.2 billion by the end of the century.

Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story

  1. The world’s population is expected to continue growing for another 50 or 60 years, reaching a peak of around 10.3 billion people in the mid-2080s, up from 8.2 billion in 2024. After peaking, it is projected to start declining, gradually falling to 10.2 billion people by the end of the century.

  2. One in four people globally lives in a country whose population has already peaked in size. In 63 countries and areas, containing 28 per cent of the world’s population in 2024, the size of the population peaked before 2024. In 48 countries and areas, with 10 per cent of the world’s population in 2024, population size is projected to peak between 2025 and 2054.

  3. Women today bear one child fewer on average than they did around 1990. Currently, the global fertility rate stands at 2.3 live births per woman, down from 3.3 births in 1990. More than half of all countries and areas globally have fertility below 2.1 births per woman, the level required for a population to maintain a constant size in the long run without migration.

  4. Early childbearing has harmful effects on young mothers and their children. In 2024, 4.7 million babies, or about 3.5 per cent of the total worldwide, were born to mothers under age 18 –  and some 3.4 lakh to girls under age 15 – with serious consequences for the health and well-being of both the young mothers and their children.

  5. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, global life expectancy is rising once again. Globally, life expectancy at birth reached 73.3 years in 2024, an increase of 8.4 years since 1995. Further reductions in mortality are projected to result in an average longevity of around 77.4 years globally in 2054. Since 2022, life expectancy has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in nearly all countries and areas.

  6. The main driver of global population increase through the mid-century will be the momentum created by growth in the past. The number of women at ages 15-49 is projected to grow from nearly 2 billion in 2024 to a peak of around 2.2 billion in the late 2050s, driving continued growth even if the number of births per woman falls to the replacement level.

  7. Countries with youthful populations and declining fertility have a limited time to benefit economically from an increasing concentration of population in the working ages. In about 100 countries or areas, the working-age population (between 20 and 64 years) will grow through 2054, offering a window of opportunity known as the demographic dividend. To capitalise on this opportunity, countries must invest in education, health, and infrastructure, and implement reforms to create jobs and improve government efficiency.

  8. By 2080, persons aged 65 or older will outnumber children under 18. By the late 2070s, the global population aged 65 and older is projected to reach 2.2 billion, exceeding the number of children under 18. By the mid-2030s, those aged 80 and over will outnumber infants (1 year of age or less), reaching 265 million. Countries that are at more advanced stages in the process of demographic ageing should consider the use of technology to improve productivity at all ages. They should also design more opportunities for lifelong learning and re-training, support multigenerational workforces and create opportunities to extend working lives for those who can and want to continue working. 

  9. For some populations, immigration will be the main driver of future growth. In 50 countries and areas, immigration is projected to attenuate the decline in population size due to sustained low levels of fertility and an older age structure. However, in 14 countries and areas already experiencing ultra-low fertility, emigration is likely to contribute to reducing population size through 2054.

  10. Gender equality and women’s empowerment help to counter rapid population growth or decline. Discrimination and legal barriers limit women and adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health services. Raising the legal marriage age and integrating family planning into primary health care can enhance women’s education, economic participation, and reduce childbearing. In countries where populations have peaked already or are likely to peak in the next three decades, policies providing paid parental leave and flexible working arrangements, supporting affordable, high-quality childcare, providing comprehensive care for an ageing population; and encouraging an equal distribution of caregiving and household responsibilities between men and women can improve women’s participation.