World population chart: 2022 global population, growth rate, projections - as world hits 8 billion humans

Rapid population growth will mean more people competing for scarce water and food resources

According to the United Nations, the world's population will reach an estimated eight billion people on Tuesday (15 November), with developing nations in Africa accounting for the majority of the expansion.

The UN's ‘Day of 8 Billion’ is more symbolic than precise, officials are careful to note in a comprehensive report released over the summer that makes some astonishing estimates.

As governments struggle to offer enough classrooms and jobs for a fast expanding number of youth, and food poverty becomes an ever more pressing issue, the upward population trend threatens to leave even more people in developing countries further behind.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

How is the population growing?

Revellers enjoy the atmosphere during the opening day or ‘Chupinazo’ of the San Fermin Running of the Bulls fiesta in 2015 in Spain (Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images)

“The population in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double between 2022 and 2050, putting additional pressure on already strained resources and challenging policies aimed to reduce poverty and inequalities,” the UN report said.

It predicted that the world's population will reach 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.4 billion in 2100.

According to the UN, sub-Saharan Africa's population is rising at a rate of 2.5% per year, which is more than three times the global average. Women in sub-Saharan Africa have 4.6 children on average, double the global average of 2.3.

Families grow larger when women have children at a young age, and according to UN estimates, four out of every 10 African females marry before the age of 18. The continent has the greatest rate of teen pregnancy in the world, accounting for over half of all infants born last year to mothers under the age of 20 worldwide.

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Where is population growth at its highest?

Developing countries in Africa account for the majority of the growth. Nigeria is one of them, and the West African country's population is predicted to grow even more over the next three decades, from 216 million this year to 375 million, according to the UN.

“We are already overstretching what we have — the housing, roads, the hospitals, schools. Everything is overstretched,” said Gyang Dalyop, an urban planning and development consultant in Nigeria. After India, China and the United States, Nigeria will be the world's fourth most populated country.

Nigeria, along with Congo, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, is one of eight countries predicted by the UN to account for more than half of global population growth between now and 2050.

Egypt, Pakistan, the Philippines, and India, which is poised to overtake China as the world's most populated nation next year, are among the other countries with the fastest rising populations.

What does population growth mean for the planet?

(Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

As governments struggle to provide enough schools and jobs for an ever-increasing number of young people, and food insecurity becomes an increasingly severe concern, the rising population trend threatens to push even more people in developing countries further behind.

Rapid population expansion also means more people competing for scarce water resources while climate change has a growing impact on food productivity in many regions of the world.

“There is also a greater pressure on the environment, increasing the challenges to food security that is also compounded by climate change,” said Dr Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

“Reducing inequality while focusing on adapting and mitigating climate change should be where our policy makers’ focus should be.”

According to experts, a greater threat to the environment is consumption, which is highest in wealthy countries that are not experiencing rapid population growth.

“Global evidence shows that a small portion of the world’s people use most of the Earth’s resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions,” said Poornima Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India.

“Over the past 25 years, the richest 10% of the global population has been responsible for more than half of all carbon emissions.”

According to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development in Washington, environmental worries about the eight billion mark should centre on consumption, particularly in richer countries.

“Population is not the problem, the way we consume is the problem — let’s change our consumption patterns,” he said.

Will population growth slow?

According to the UN, any effort to limit family size today would come too late to appreciably influence 2050 growth estimates. About two-thirds of it “will be driven by the momentum of past growth”.

“Such growth would occur even if childbearing in today’s high-fertility countries were to fall immediately to around two births per woman,” its report found.

Despite rising populations in some countries, the UN predicts that rates will fall by 1% or more in 61 countries. According to US Census Bureau figures, the US population is now around 333 million people. The population growth rate in 2021 was just 0.1%, the lowest since the country's foundation.

“Going forward, we’re going to have slower growth — the question is, how slow?” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “The real wild card for the US and many other developed countries is immigration.”