Population growth: comparing Pakistan to Afghanistan

The world population is growing, but that growth is far from uniform. In our new series on the demographical situation in the world we zoom in on the UN World Population Prospects 2010 Revision that was published last month – and try and shine some more light on some of the most remarkable countries, per couple. Today that is Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Both countries are remarkable because of their fast population growth, well above average. There are some big differences too. In Afghanistan live 31 million people today. Pakistan, not that much bigger in size, has almost 6 times as many inhabitants, with a total population of around 174 million people.

Birth rate and fertility

These numbers are changing fast though. The average Pakistani woman gives birth to 3.7 children. In Afghanistan the number is as high as 6.6 children per woman, ranking second in the world to Niger. On crude birth rate Afghanistan ranks 5th, with only the African countries Niger, Mali, Uganda and Chad witnessing more births per 1000 citizens.

Population growth

The average annual population growth in Afghanistan is currently at 2.6 percent – taking into account emigration. The Pakistani population grows by 1.8 percent. Although these are to be considered rapid growth rates, they are placed in the shadows of nearby Gulf state Arabian countries like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have – comparing to Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively – about 4x, 5x & 6x and 6, 7 & 8x higher population growths. However, growth rate percentages do not tell us much about the actual population increases, as the graph below [red is Pakistan, dark blue is Afghanistan] shows.

Population growth of Pakistan and Afghanistan

Population forecasts

In 1950 there were 8 million people in Afghanistan. Sixty years later, in 2010, there were 4 times as many. One century later, in less than 4 decades from now, the Afghani population will have increased 950 percent, to 76 million people.

In 1950 there were 38 million people in Pakistan. In 2010 this number had increased almost fivefold. In the year 2050, there will be about 275 million people living in Pakistan.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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