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+ Use information from here: https://www.prb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018_WPDS.pdf

The datasheet is the work of the Population Reference Bureau (paid by USAID of the State Department). Browse through this document. Definitions of column headings are in the index at the end of the document.


1. Note the population changes between 2018 and 2050 – Indonesia, Pakistan especially stand out, also the Congo, while other countries’ population drops radically off the top 10 charts. List those changes. Are the upcoming (2050) largest countries the ones we/you know most about? What shapes what countries we know and those we don’t?

2. The world is growing older – what will this mean for country budgets (don’t forget that seniors often do volunteer work, including working at voting stations)? Economic development? In which countries are there the largest proportion of old people (65 and above)? Of young people (15 and below)? How can a large proportion of youth benefit countries? If the countries do what?

3. Focus on Age Dependency ratio described on page 3 and practice assessing this important future development by adding up a region or country’s ’15 and below population with the ‘65 and above’. This will give you the ratio of a dependent population. In three regions (such as Europe) or subregions (such as Eastern Europe), which country has an especially large proportion of dependents?

4. Everywhere, with very few exceptions, fertility rates have gone down and continue to do so. Characterize the fertility rate of European countries? Of Latin America? ZPG (or Zero Population Growth or 2.1) is the number of children a woman has in a country to maintain replacement level and its future population steady. Which Asian countries have reached ZPG or are very close to it?

5. And yet from a global population of 7.6 billion in 2018, we expect that the population will grow to 9.9 billion in 2050. In fact the population is growing in the vast majority of countries. Why is that, given lowered fertility rates? Hint: it is not related to migration – in fact, migration is a very small number as you can see in the ‘Net Migration Rate’ column.

6. A reality we must address is that we face an increase of almost 25% more people by 2050. We will all still need to be housed, fed, educated etc. all the while managing ‘smaller’ problems such as covid 19 etc. How should this near certainty guide us, in terms of agriculture, water use, research and development, …?

7. Having answered all previous questions on this handout, reflect and discuss your thoughts about world developments we must anticipate in your lifetime.

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