[...] Joseph Chamie, the head of the UN population division in New York, said he now expected 8.9 billion people on Earth in 2050, rather than the 9.3 billion that he forecast in 2002. The current figure is 6.3 billion.
The 400-million reduction equates to the current populations of the US, Canada and Mexico combined. Chamie said half arose from birth rates falling faster than expected and the other half was due to rising forecasts of the death toll from AIDS. [...]
He warned that "fertility rates will be below replacement levels in three-quarters of the world by 2050". The great majority of women worldwide will be having fewer than two children. [...] In fact, the new projections assume that most countries will eventually approach a fertility rate of 1.85 children per woman. This represents a clear break with past thinking - demographers had always assumed countries would settle down to replacement fertility levels. [...]
The population of South Africa and three neighbours is also expected to reduce, but as a result of the AIDS. Chamie predicts the disease will have claimed 278 million lives by mid-century. [...]
The next five decades are also set to see a massive ageing of the world population. The number of people over 80 will rise fivefold. The median citizen - the one with half the world older than him or her and half younger, will be aged 37 in 2050, compared to 26 today.
"fertility rates will be below replacement levels in three-quarters of the world by 2050"
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