World population 7 billion – where will the next billion come from?

Just one more day till the world population reaches 7 billion.
Just 14 more years till the world population reaches 8 billion.

We’ve seen how the latest one billion extra people are spread over the different continents. Now we’re wondering where the next billion people will come from.

world population 8 billion people
World population from 7 billion to 8 billion people. Full-scale infographic.
[For comparison click here to view the 7 billion people infographic.]

To get to a proper estimate we’ll take another good look at the UN’s World Population Prospects 2010 Revision, which was published last May. We’ll ignore the high and low variant and stick to the medium projections.

As we’ve stressed many times before the 21st century global population growth is far from uniform. Up to 2050 an estimated 97 percent will come from less developed countries. Over the course of the century there will be substantial population growth in Asia and Africa – but Asia will peak, where Africa may not.

Between 2011 and 2025 the world population will grow from 7 to 8 billion people.

Asia and Africa contribute most, but in different ways

Asia’s population will grow from 4.25 billion to 4.73 billion people. That means [as we calculate not from exact dates (like October 31 2011) but from whole years, this time for comparison purposes we use a next ‘billion’ of around 951 million people] again Asia will contribute most (50%) to the global population rise. But that’s understandable for the continent which today houses 60 percent of the world population – any growth is likely to be substantial. Over the next 14 years the Asian population is projected to grow by 11 percent – so below the world average.

Relatively speaking the largest contribution comes from Africa. Here up to 2025 the population will grow with a staggering 32 percent, from 1.07 billion to 1.42 billion people, contributing 36% to the world’s 8th billion.

The others combined: just 13 percent

All the other continents do still contribute to continued growth, although in the case of North America, Europe and Australia immigration plays a substantial role (next to natural growth).

Between 2011 and 2025 the population of Latin America grows from 603 million to 679 million people. That’s a rise of 13 percent [so slightly more than Asia] and an 8 percent contribution to the global population rise.

North America grows from 351 million to 388 million people, contributing 4 percent to ‘the next one billion’.

Australia (Oceania) grows from 38 million to 45 million people, contributing less than 1 percent.

Europe is at the other extreme of the population growth spectrum. In the next 14 years the European population will grow with just 0.5 percent, from 740 million to 744 million people – contributing  a rounded zero percent to the world’s 8th billion. Many countries, for instance Germany, but most notably Russia and Ukraine, will see their populations actually decline. Without immigration the continent’s population average would also be negative.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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