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Source: Economist

Category: Data Analysis, Digital Media, Economy

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6 Responses to “Global Population Expectations”

  1. louiswi says:

    Clearly the 2050 forecast number is a pre world war III number. Look for that number to not hold up.

  2. constantnormal says:

    Ditto on that.

    Antibiotics and the “green revolution” have made some big strides in the past few decades, but those are running out of steam, while the global hatreds have not lessened a bit, and our capabilities for mass slaughter have intensified and become a lot more creative (who would have ever though of a pressure cooker as a WMD back in the 50s?).

    I look for the bacteria and viruses to win the next inning, possibly with an assist from global climate change, wiping out a lot of crops and opening the door to insect and disease infestations.

    And if those do not do the trick, there is always, as you note, the World War Z option.

  3. It is even more interesting if you consider the purchasing power can be used to buy food (in order of population by 2050):
    India: 3,876
    China: 9,233
    Nigeria: 2,661
    US: 49,965
    Indonesia: 4,956
    Pakistan: 2,891
    Brazil: 11,909
    Bangladesh: 1,833
    Ethiopia: 1,139
    Philippines: 4,413
    Mexico: 16,676
    Congo: 422
    Source:, PPP GDP per capita, 2012.

    And have a look at agriculture land per capita in order of population by 2050 (acres):
    India 0.4
    China 0.9
    Nigeria: 1.1
    United States: 3.2
    Indonesia: 0.5
    Pakistan: 0.4
    Brazil: 3.4
    Bangladesh: 0.1
    Ethiopia: 1.0
    Philippines: 0.3
    Mexico: 2.1
    Congo: 1.0
    Source:, Agriculture land and population, 2012
    The limit to be completely self-supplying is around 1.2-1.5 acres per capita. Actually all but 3 of these countries will rely on food imports, with lagging purchase power.

    • Greg0658 says:

      a little help understanding how you figure the statement:
      “the purchasing power can be used to buy food”
      I guess I could guess but ..
      (as the beach thread is full of instances – a population can’t just buy/sell what it wants – there is a balance point) (mother & human nature always gets its way)

      I think I get “agriculture land per capita” ie: food source productive land divided by current population
      (water usage?) (verticle usage as in indoor farming?)

      • I checked purchasing power to see how easy would be for a given country to import food. Logic:
        Imported food is more expensive.
        People need purchasing power to buy imported food.
        Idea: Higher purchasing power enables importing food from global markets.
        The standardized purchasing power well represents how competitive these countries are on world markets.

        On your second point you are right. Production per acre is the key.It’s basically influences how much land you need to feed one citizen. The 1.2-1.5 acre I used is an estimate for a low to medium advanced agriculture technology with world average consumption. This is a very complex estimation. I tried to consider challenging conditions as well as technology when deciding to choose this range. Of course there are many factors contributing to this single figure: GMO, chemicals, fertilizers, soil conditions, temperature, water availability (rain or irrigation not the same), machinery available and maybe many others.
        The range 1.2-1.5 is some kind of assumption that Nigerian farmers will not drive John Deeres and use Monsanto staff on their mostly sandy and laterite soil. And here I was still optimistic quite a bit with these numbers.
        This is the point where countries like the US, China are getting lucky, since soil conditions cannot be changed. If you have a desert it will remain a desert. Probably The worst situated countries would be here: Nigeria and Pakistan.

  4. victor says:

    These projections of world population are quite credible given that 2050 is a mere generation and a half away and demographics stat’s tend to be accurate under these conditions. Malthus, then Paul Ehrlich and until recently James Lovelock all predicted Armageddon; hasn’t happened yet and short of a mother of all black swans (Earth reversing polarity, Yellowstone supper volcano..) I suspect humanity will manage, after all growing economies need growing populations and who really knows where the limits are? Meanwhile, happy 4th of July, rejoice we’re all here in the best country on this planet, chin up!