(July 2016) The world population on July 11, 2016—World Population Day—was 7.419 billion. Of that total, 60 percent lived in Asia, 16 percent in Africa, 13 percent in the Americas, 10 percent in Europe, and 0.5 percent in Oceania. The theme of this year’s World Population Day, as designated by the United Nations, is "investing in teenage girls"—a theme that runs through much of the work done by PRB. We collaborate with a variety of partners in the United States and globally to communicate data and evidence to show that empowered and educated girls and women have a better chance of leading healthy, productive lives. Check out some examples from the past year.

In August, Population Reference Bureau (PRB) will release its 2016 World Population Data Sheet package, including our latest projections for world, country, and world regional populations for both 2030 and 2050. Here are a couple of sneak previews.

Top of the Pop: The rankings of countries with the largest populations will reshuffle between now and 2050, with India overtaking China in the top spot.

Shrinking populations: While trajectories of global population typically focus on growth rates, not all countries will see growing populations in the decades to come. The eight countries with the largest projected nominal declines would shed nearly 100 million from their combined population total if the projections prove accurate.

2016 WPD Focus on Teenage Girls

The theme of this year’s World Population Day, as designated by the United Nations, is "investing in teenage girls”—a theme that runs through much of the work done by PRB. We collaborate with a variety of partners in the United States and globally to communicate data and evidence to show that empowered and educated girls and women have a better chance of leading healthy, productive lives. Below are some relevant examples from the past year:

Adolescent Girls in Egypt

PRB produced a policy brief, Adolescent Girls in Egypt, showing that while adolescent girls’ health and well-being have generally improved in Egypt, inequalities remain widespread. Girls’ school enrollment has risen significantly over the past few decades, but dropout rates remain high. The rate at which girls undergo FGC has been declining only slowly. Girls today are less likely to become child brides (married before age 18) than a generation ago but the rate of child marriage has leveled off in recent years.

Every year, millions of girls in developing countries marry before their 18th birthday. In Egypt, it is one in six girls. Child marriage is a violation of human rights and can cause a lifetime of consequences for girls and their families. A PRB video supported by the Ford Foundation, “Ending Child Marriage in Egypt,” shows the extent of the problem and argues that government agencies, civil society, and research organizations must do more to encourage girls to stay in school and change cultural expectations of this practice. 

The Role of Mental Health

The mental health of teenage girls is an essential element for ensuring they live healthy, productive lives. A recent PRB article focusing on data from the United States, "Suicide Replaces Homicide as Second-Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Teenagers", showed that rising suicide rates among teenage girls is driving the overall suicide rate higher, though the data don’t provide reasons why girls are leading the trend. Suicides have become the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, surpassing homicide deaths, which dropped to third on the list. The teenage suicide rate increased from 8 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 8.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2014.

Adolescent Reproductive Health

Solid evidence on the links between preventing adolescent childbearing and alleviating poverty can motivate policymakers and donors to invest in reproductive health and family planning programs for youth. Research that documents the clear cause-and-effect relationship between program interventions and outcomes, such as better health and delayed childbearing among teens, can guide decisions about investments in research or programs. Making the Case for Investing in Adolescent and Reproductive Health, a report produced by PRB as part of the Population and Poverty Research Network, examines the evidence for investing in adolescent reproductive health and family planning programs from the perspective of making an evidence-based argument to guide the investment or spending decisions of public or private organizations.

The Gender Dividend

A recent PRB article, “Investing in Women and Girls for a Gender Dividend,” notes that concept of a gender dividend has recently entered into the broader demographic dividend discussion. While the demographic dividend comes from shifting age structures toward more productive ages, gender dividends come from taking steps that increase the volume of market (paid) work and the level of productivity of the female population. Based on research by Gretchen Donehower of the University of California, Berkeley, the article argues that Investments in the human capital of women and girls may thus have multiple beneficial effects: They contribute to lower fertility and population age structures shifting toward more productive ages, and may then have an additional effect of increasing women’s time for market work and raise their market productivity as well.

Family Planning and Human Rights

Family Planning and Human Rights—What's the Connection and Why Is It Important, a PRB Policy Brief, draws from human rights treaties and covenants that have the status of international law to clarify key human rights principles and outlines policy actions that must be taken to ensure that voluntary family planning programs result in contraceptive use based on full, free, and informed choice, including for youth.

Family Planning and Resilience

Some evidence suggests that family planning may be transformative in changing people’s ability at multiple levels to adapt to climate change and break cycles of crisis. A PRB policy brief and interactive infographic explore the connections between women, their access to family planning, population, and resilience, and makes the case that investments that aim to improve women’s access to rights-based voluntary family planning are critical to building resilience.

Adolescent Well-Being

With funding from the Girl Scout Research Institute, PRB produced The State of Girls: Thriving or Surviving, a composite index designed to summarize the well-being of girls in the United States across several different dimensions.  A series of 50 state profiles shows how girls are faring across the 50 states.