Autor: ---- Fuente: C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute)

The UN Population Division has just released its occasional crystal ball predictions about global population growth. This report attempts to project fertility rates and global population well into the future. The report itself admits their work is mostly "guesses." After all, in this report they look three hundred years into the future. What is unique about this report is that it is the first UN report to look so far into the future and it predicts that over the next three hundred years world population will experience substantial aging and eventual decline.

As a measure of its inexactitude, "World Population to 2300," is also the most recent in a series of these UN reports to reduce previous previous predictions. Their 1996 report expected between 7.6 billion and 11.1 billion people by 2050, while the next report in 1998 lowered this projection to between 7.3 billion and 10.7 billion. Likewise, the 2002 report revised the 2000 report downward from 9.3 billion to 8.9 billion. The new report continues the 2002 projection beyond the year 2050, and says that "world population growth beyond 2050, at least for the following 250 years, is expected to be minimal." The report's "medium scenario" predicts a decline to 8.4 billion by 2200 after a peak of 9.2 billion in 2075.

Global population is expected to decline because many countries will sustain a long-term growth rate below the so-called replacement level fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman, which a country needs to maintain its population. The report predicts that developed countries will continue below replacement fertility for about 100 years and then rise again to replacement levels, though there is no real evidence for this prediction. The report expects that Europe, where "fertility falls to its lowest point" in the world, will shrink from its current 728 million to 538 million by 2100. By 2045-2050, "139 countries will have total fertility under 2.0."

One of the most alarming predictions in the report is that the world population will experience a massive aging. Decreased fertility will shrivel the proportion of children in the world population from 30% to 16% by 2100. This, together with increased life expectancy, will cause the median age to rise from 26 years in 2000 to 50 years in 2300, and the proportion of those aged 65 or over will rocket from 7% in 2000 to 32% in 2300.

The report also projects a great increase in population of the very old (those aged 80 or older). Even by 2100 their population should rise to eleven times the number in 2000, and by 2300 they will be 17% of the population, contrasted with the current 1%.

The aging of the population will mean that on average, there will be more than one 'dependent' per person of working age, and the report suggests that countries will need to adapt their institutions and economies. One possible change is that the retirement age may need to be increased far beyond where most nations place it.
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