A super resource for looking at demographic trends as between 1950 and 2100 – a graph that allows you to follow the trends in 50 countries and world regions and easily make comparisons.
Thus (say) in 1950 Egypt and Pakistan combined had some 60 million people, not that many more than the UK – by 2070 they will have some 400 million, while we’ll have some 75 million.
Or take Yemen. A sleepy Arab backwater of some 4 million people in 1950 – hurtling to 100 million (and rising) in 2100.
Even this heroic reproductive effort pales into comparison with the hard demographic efforts being made in East Africa: 5 million Ugandans in 1950, soaring to 170 million in 2100. Over 300 million people in Tanzania in 2100?!
Can these figures be right?
Back in 1985 or so I wrote a speech for Sir Geoffrey Howe about demographic trends. It posed this question:
Take a country with a fast-growing population. It gets worried that its people may outstrip its resources and passes a law that limits families to a maximum of two children. The law is 100% obeyed from the day it is passed. When does the country’s population stop growing?
The answer, of course, is that in the absence of wars or massive calamity the population stops growing roughly around the time that the children who are born the day the law is passed themselves die of old age. In other words, the population growth juggernaut trundles on for some 70 years before the decline sets in.
A population grows each year because more people are being born than die. So if there are more many young people than old people, it has to keep growing until the current young people themselves reach the top of the demographic pyramid. As in Yemen and Tanzania now.
This effect also works in reverse – Ukraine and Russia are set to see accelerating demographic decline over this period as there are today too many old people dying and not enough new young people appearing.
This (as I just written in a piece for the Commentator) compels us to look very hard at where Europe and the UK want to be in the lifetime of our children. The sheer numbers of Africans and Asians and Middle Easterners living in 2070 will be on a scale completely different to anything we can imagine now. Managing a transition to that world requires political statesmanship and hard-headed policies on a scale unlikely to be deliverable..?