The next China

Nigeria is set to surpass the US as the as the third-most populous country by 2050. By 2100, it could have more people than China. The populations of Burundi, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia are all projected to increase at least five-fold by 2100; overall the population of Africa is set to quadruple by the end of this century.

Revised UN figures published last month show that Asia’s population is set to continue to rise to a peak within about 50 years, and then decline, while developed countries, especially in Europe, will stagnate or shrink. (The Washington Post has some useful visuals here.)

Meanwhile, the population of the least developed countries is projected to double (from 902 million today, to 1.8 billion in 2050). This would mean that by 2050, 86.4 % of the world’s population would live in less developed regions, including 19.0 per cent in the least developed countries.

As wary as one should be of projections so far into the future (the figures are based on medium variants, and there’s a wide gap between high and low variants), they should at least provoke serious thought about how such trends – and the challenges they raise – would be managed. We have been warned.

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