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The world’s population is slowing down and could stop growing — or even begin decreasing — by 2100, according to a United Nations report released Monday.
The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said that the world population could reach its peak at nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.
However, division director John Wilmoth said this outcome “is not certain and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”
The report is a comprehensive overview of global patterns and predictions in the world’s population.
The U.N. also found the world’s population is getting older, with people over the age of 65 being the fastest-growing age group.
One in four people living in Europe and Northern America could be 65 years or older by 2050, the report found. And the number of people age 80 or over is projected to triple globally, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.
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2018 marked the first time in history that those over 65 outnumbered children under 5. This is due in part to global life expectancy continuing to rise as fertility rates continue to fall.
The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019 and is projected to decline even further to 2.2 in 2050.
Slow population growth and a shift to an older demographic could have serious global consequences: Countries may face fiscal pressures when it comes to health care, pensions and social protections for the elderly, Populations Affairs Officer Sara Hertog said.
But there’s still time to prepare.
“Population projections allow societies to anticipate population aging and consider these trends in policies and planning,” Hertog said in an email to USA TODAY.
Contributing: The Associated Press