The world’s population is forecast to hit 7 billion in 2011, the vast majority of its growth coming in developing and, in many cases, the poorest nations, a report released Wednesday said.
A staggering 97 percent of global growth over the next 40 years will happen in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Population Reference Bureau’s 2009 World Population Data Sheet.
“The great bulk of today’s 1.2 billion youth — nearly 90 percent — are in developing countries,” said Carl Haub, a co-author of the report. Eight in 10 of those youth live in Africa and Asia.
“During the next few decades, these young people will most likely continue the current trend of moving from rural areas to cities in search of education and training opportunities, gainful employment, and adequate health care,” Haub continued, calling it one of the major social questions of the next few decades.
In the developed world, the United States and Canada will account for most of the growth — half from immigration and half from a natural increase in the population — births minus deaths, according to the report.
High fertility rates and a young population base in the developing world will fuel most of the growth, especially in Africa, where women often give birth to six or seven children over a lifetime, the report says. The number is about two in the United States and 1.5 in Canada.