A new study is predicting that by 2064, the global population could peak at 9.7 billion – but a significant decline is expected to follow after that, bringing the global population down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had predicted the peak to happen in 2100, with the world’s population expected to reach 10.9 billion people by then, after which it would stop growing due to decreasing fertility rates. But the new study, published in The Lancet, is now expecting the peak – which is under the UNDP’s global population prediction by over one billion – to happen almost four decades earlier.
“A decline in total world population in the latter half of the century is potentially good news for the global environment,” note the authors of the study in The Lancet. “Fewer people on the planet in every year between now and 2100 than the number forecasted by the UNPD would mean less carbon emission, less stress on global food systems, and less likelihood of transgressing planetary boundaries.”
With that in mind, the study warns of potential consequences in the economy following a decline in some countries’ populations, encouraging governments to study the predictions and review migration policies, suggesting that “nations that sustain their working-age populations over the long-term through migration, such as Canada, Australia, and the USA, would fare well”.