Humans to number 9 billion by 2050

July 23, 2003

BY GENARO C. ARMAS Advertisement

WASHINGTON--Africa's population could soar by more than 1 billion over the next half-century, further straining food and water supplies and social services in areas already struggling, according to a report Tuesday.

Political unrest and war have limited the ability of many developing nations to promote family planning and literacy programs, said Carl Haub, author of the study released Tuesday from the Population Reference Bureau, a private research group.

In many of these countries, big families are the cultural norm. African governments, especially those of sub-Saharan nations, will need to create millions of jobs and improve health care facilities and schools, the report said.

''Africa is going to have a hard time taking on another 1 billion people,'' Haub said. ''How do you raise living standards, how do you educate, improve health care, and how do you battle AIDS at the same time?''

The latest edition of the ''World Population Data Sheet'' estimates the global population will rise 46 percent between now and 2050 to about 9 billion, a level also predicted by the United Nations and other groups.

European nations, more industrialized and prosperous, are expected to lose population because of falling birth rates and low immigration.

The U.S. population is expected to grow at about the same rate to 422 million in 2050, paced by a stable birth rate and high levels of immigration.

But most of the world's growth will be in developing nations. India's population is estimated to grow 52 percent to 1.6 billion by 2050, when it will surpass China as the world's largest country.

The population in neighboring Pakistan will grow to 349 million, up 134 percent in 2050. Triple-digit growth rates also are forecast for Iraq, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Africa is supposed to more than double in population to 1.9 billion by midcentury.

The population in Congo, which has been torn by civil war, could more than triple during the same period to 181 million. And Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, could more than double to 307 million.