In our series comparing population growth for different sets of countries today we have a special: the new number 4, 5 and 6 of world populations – compared to the biggest decliner, set in the year 2031.
Landmass to population ratios for 2011-2031. Infographic by Kate Snow.
In 1975 the Russian population was still the world’s 4th largest. With the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years later the country lost over 3 million square kilometres of its territory [mostly to Kazachstan] remaining by far the world’s largest in area size though.
Russia loses 6 million people in 20 years to come
Since 1991 the Russian land area has remained constant [at about 17 million square kilometres, see infographic], but the Russian population size has not. Today Russia ranks 9th on the populations list – with even tiny Bangladesh placed above it. And as the Russian population decline continues over the rest of the century more and more countries will surpass it.
That’s not so much because Russians die en masse [although there will be 6 million fewer 20 years from now], but [much more so] because the population growth in Africa and parts of southern Asia remains very high, with a substantially larger (positive) discrepancy between birth rates and mortality rates.
Population growth Nigeria, 2031: 264 million people
Between 2011 and 2031 for instance the Nigerian population will – according to UN’s medium forecast – increase by close to a hundred million people, or 59 percent. According to that forecast the Nigerian population growth after 2031 will simply continue over the rest of the century, as is the case for many other African nations.
Two decades from now Nigeria will rank fifth, below Indonesia and above Pakistan.
Population growth Indonesia, 2031: 281 million people
The Indonesian population is already large in absolute numbers, also ranking fourth today. Between 2011 and 2031 the total population will rise by about 43 million people.
The relative growth is with 18 percent considerably less than that of Nigeria though. It shows a general difference between expected population growth in Asia and Africa.
Population growth Pakistan, 2031: 237 million people
The population growth of Pakistan is high for Asian standards, but roughly comparable to (high) growth figures in the Middle East [but clearly higher than Iran]. Between 2011 and 2031 the Pakistani population will grow by 34 percent, or 60 million more people.
China, India and the USA: recognisable, but changing
By 2031 things will not have changed much in the world’s populations top three, although India will overtake China as the world’s largest population somewhere around 2020. Even China still shows (a little bit of) growth, so don’t believe the one child myth.
The US will hold on to third place – for now. Although one of few Western countries with actually rising populations [due to continued high immigration mostly] it won’t be more than decades before, you’ve guessed right, Nigeria will also surpass the US.
The rest of the world, the rest of the century
According to UN’s Population Prospects medium forecasts current trends by no means end in 2031 – especially in Africa’s case. By the end of the century even the smallest of African countries, like Uganda and Malawi are forecast to have larger populations than Russia.
And it should come as no surprise if by that date the total world population will have increased to more than the current UN estimate of 10.1 billion. Because -apparently- that’s how demography works: lose assumptions, close in on truth.
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org