On November 15, 2022, the Earth reached the population milestone of 8 billion people. Today, the world population’s growth rate is 0.83% per year. It’s not the case that birth rates have increased, however. People are simply living longer and healthier lives than at any other point in history, allowing more people to survive to adulthood and reproduce.
Since 1800, global life expectancy has grown from 29 years to 73. However, life expectancy still varies wildly between countries. While Spain has an average life expectancy of 84 years, Sierra Leone only has a life expectancy of 44 years. The gap between the most healthy and least healthy countries makes 40 years of difference in citizens’ lifespan. The problem is not resources, but inequality.
What do these numbers mean going forward? The UN projects that the Earth’s population will peak at 10.4 billion in 2080. On the road to 9 billion people, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa (where the least healthy countries are located) will double. Meanwhile, the population of Europe, particularly Southeastern Europe, will decline during the same time period. This pattern of growth and decline in different regions will encourage international migration between the Earth’s 2 hemispheres.