(September 2002) Every year, world population grows by a little over 79 million people, roughly the population of Germany, the Philippines, or Vietnam. Almost 99 percent of natural increase (births minus deaths, disregarding migration) occurs in the less developed countries. As the clock shows, more developed countries as a group account for a mere 1.4 percent of natural increase, although there is wide regional variation: Europe’s population experiences a natural decrease of 1.0 million per year, but Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and North America have a natural increase of about 2.1 million.
Less developed countries, home to 81 percent of the world’s population, have 90 percent of the world’s births per year. But infant mortality rates are significantly higher in those nations.
World Population Clock
|World||More Developed Countries||Less Developed Countries||Less Developed Countries (less China)|
|Natural Increase per:|
Source: Population Reference Bureau, 2002 World Population Data Sheet.
About 6.6 million people are added to the world’s population each month, equivalent to the population of Israel or El Salvador. The increase each week, at 1.5 million, is equal to the population of Gambia.
The number of people added annually to world population has been declining recently, after peaking at about 87 million around 1990 (see figure below). The number added each year has peaked several times in the past, affected by changes in China’s birth rate. With China and India now accounting for one-third of births worldwide, if their birth rates rise, global growth could reach yet another peak.
Annual Increase in World Population, 1951-2001
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Database (www.census.gov/ipc/www/
worldpop.html, accessed July 22, 2002).
Carl Haub holds the Conrad Taeuber Chair of Population Information at PRB.