The US Census Bureau's world population clock estimated that the global population as of September 2022 was 7,922,312,800 people and was expected to reach 8 billion by mid-November of 2022. This total far exceeds the 2015 world population of 7.2 billion. The world's population continues to increase by roughly 140 people per minute, with births outweighing deaths in most countries.
Overall, however, the rate of population growth has been slowing for several decades. This slowdown is expected to continue until the rate of population growth reaches zero (an equal number of births and deaths) around 2080-2100, at a population of approximately 10.4 billion people. After this time, the population growth rate is expected to turn negative, resulting in global population decline.
China is currently the most populous country in the world, with a population estimated at more than 1.42 billion as of September 2022. Only one other country in the world boasts a population of more than 1 billion people: India, whose population is estimated to be 1.41 billion people—and rising.
While India's population is projected to continue to grow until at least the year 2050, China's population is currently contracting slightly. This contraction, coupled with India's continued growth, is expected to result in India replacing China as the most populous country in the world by the year 2030.
Another 12 countries each have populations that exceeded 100 million people as of September 2022:
While Russia and Japan will see their populations decline significantly by 2050, the rest of these nations are expected to continue growing until at least 2050. Additionally, two additional countries, DR Congo and Vietnam, have more than 99 million people and should soon reach the 100 million mark.
As shown in the live-updating population table below, the overwhelming majority of the world's countries have fewer than 100 million people—substantially fewer, in some cases. The smallest country in the world in terms of both population and total area is Vatican City, where barely 500 people reside.
|Population range||# of countries|
|1 billion or more||2|
|100 million to 999.9 million||12|
|10 million to 99.9 million||80|
|1 million to 9.9 million||66|
|less than 1 million||74|
The world's population continues to increase, with approximately 140 million babies born every year. According to the United Nations' 2022 World Population Prospects report, the global population is projected to reach 8.5 billion people by the year 2030, 9.7 billion people by 2050, and 10.4 billion people by 2080, where it will remain until 2100.
While the world's total population is expected to continue to rise until roughly 2100, the rate at which the population is rising has been slowly decreasing for decades. In 2020, the global population growth rate fell below one percent for the first time since 1950. This decrease continues a trend begun in the 1970s, in which the population growth rate shows a consistent decrease when measured in five-year increments.
The rate of population growth varies greatly from one country or region to another. More than half of the world's expected population growth between now and 2050 is expected to come from just eight countries: DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania. Particularly of interest is India, which is on track to overtake China's position as the most populous country by the year 2030. Additionally, multiple nations within Africa are expected to double their populations in the coming decades as fertility rates and birth rates rise thanks in part to advancements in medical care and decreased infant mortality and malnutrition.
Global life expectancy has also improved in recent years, rising to 72.8 years in 2019—almost 9 years longer than in 1990. Global life expectancy is projected to continue to increase, reaching 77.2 years by the year 2050. Significant factors impacting the data on life expectancy include expectations regarding mankind's ability to reduce the impact of AIDS/HIV and other infectious and non-communicable diseases.
As a result of the increase in global life expectancy, the majority of the world's countries are undergoing considerable growth in the number of residents over the age of 65. The percentage of over-65 residents in the world's population is projected to rise from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050. This total will be roughly twice the number of children under age 5 and equal to the number of children under age 12. This imbalance can put considerable strain on a country's economy and infrastructure, as it can lead to a shortage of working-age individuals entering the workforce to take the place of those who are retiring.
Life expectancy has a significant impact on the ability of the population to maintain what is called a replacement rate, in which the country's death rate is balanced or exceeded by its birth rate. In countries whose birth rates are either deliberately low or unintentionally so, the death rate may be higher, resulting in overall population decline. Although population decline can be desirable in certain circumstances, it can also create economic challenges and is more often viewed as undesired.
Although population projections such as the US Census Bureau's World Population Clock utilize the most accurate and up-to-date data available, they are nonetheless still estimates. Unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic or Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine can have a powerful, but impossible-to-anticipate impact on population trends.
Even in the absence of such disruptions, the process of tracking the exact number of births and deaths in every country and territory in the world in real time—and maintaining a precise tally of the number of people alive on the Earth at any given moment—is logistically infeasible. Instead, modern population scientists use sophisticated mathematical models to create detailed estimates and projections, which the world's countries can use to plan for future generations.
How will the world's population change over the next eighty years? According to the United Nations' World Population Prospects 2022 report, the global population in 2050 is expected to reach around 9.7 billion people, nearly 2 billion more than the current population today. Current projections anticipate that this growth will continue until it reaches 10.4 million people sometime in the 2080s, at which time the population will hold steady until roughly 2100, then begin to decline.
In terms of population growth in individual countries, India is projected to surpass China as the most populated country in the world sometime during 2023, at which time China's annual growth rate will be between -0.1% and -0.3%, while India's growth rate will be between 0.69% and 0.92%. Given current trends in growth rates, UN projections predict that China's population will slide to 1.2 billion people by 2060, while India's will expand to almost 1.7 billion.
The United States is currently the third most populated country in the world, but is expected to drop to fourth most populated sometime in the early 2040s. Instead, the African country of Nigeria, whose 2022 growth rate is 2.39% (compared to 0.47% in the US) will become the third most populated country in the world. While UN predictions vary from those of the US Census Bureau, Nigeria takes the lead in both projections. Nigeria’s population is expected to reach 377-410 million by 2050, while the US will have approximately 375-390 million people.
Vatican City / Holy See is expected to continue as the country with the smallest population in the world for the next several decades. In 2022, the famous Catholic city-state had a population of 510 people as well as a negative population growth rate. However, if global warming and the concurrent sea level rise continue unabated, certain Pacific Island nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, and Vanuatu may be flooded under the rising oceans, which would force their populations to migrate and reduce their populations to zero.
The Earth's population is expected to continue growing for the next 60-80 years. Improvements in health care technology, shared by developed countries with still developing and least-developed countries, have increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality rates—which, in turn, have helped drive a boom in population growth. In fact, ten countries are expected to gain more in population by 2050 than the rest of the world combined.
|Country||Population 2022||Population 2050||Growth|
Although the world's population is currently increasing, trends indicate that the rate of growth in many countries, especially developed countries and those with high populations, is slowing down. By the end of this century, even the world's fastest-growing countries are expected to have reached peak population size and begun to display declining (or negative) growth rates.
Many factors contribute to population decline and related metrics such as fertility rates. These include increased access to birth control and family planning, an increase in overall quality of life and the human development index, and various other cultural, political, social, and economic factors These include some factors that may not initially seem related to birth rate, such as the population's general level of education and the government's per-capita health expenditure.
Whether population growth is good or bad depends heavily upon several factors, most notably the rate of growth, the country in which it is taking place, and that country's level of development. Countries that have mature economies and well-developed infrastructure are more likely to be able to absorb an increase in population. Conversely, developing countries are more likely to lack adequate jobs, health care, or other infrastructure to support a larger population.
Similarly, a gentle increase in population is typically considered healthy, but a high rate of growth can be undesirable. High growth can often overwhelm a country's infrastructure, strain systems ranging from the job market to the food supply, and constrain available resources. When this happens, technological advances may offer opportunities to overcome production shortages and/or environmental damage.
As of late 2022, the world's population was approximately 8 billion people. However, breaking down the global population by race is difficult—primarily because of the evolving meaning of the word "race."
The modern understanding is that race is an outdated social construct based on certain biological features that society has deemed to be significant. For example, most racial groupings are determined by physical differences such as skin tone or hair color. However, these variations are largely dictated by geography rather than genetics. Put simply, race is an illusion.
To clarify, it is true that isolated populations tend to display certain defining characteristics, such as the dark skin color of Africans or the blonde hair of many Northern Europeans. But these traits are all interchangeable and compatible and do not in any way introduce genetic boundaries between one supposed race and another.
This fact is clearly evidenced in the modern global population. Thanks in large part to advances in transportation and international mobility over the past century, more and more people of various "races" have spread around the world, intermarried, and started families—and their children display a breathtaking array of mixed-race appearances, obfuscating any supposed boundaries between one race and another.
These emerging demographics have made it increasingly obvious to the world's geneticists, anthropologists, and sociologists that clear-cut races do not exist. The mapping of the entire human genome in recent years has solidified and confirmed this view.
It is important not to confuse race with ethnicity, which stems from one's society and culture and which does in fact exist. The main difference between race and ethnicity is that race is based on genetic traits and physical appearance, while ethnicity is based upon customs, language, and practices that are learned and passed down from generation to generation.
While the difference between race and ethnicity may be widely understood and accepted in many countries, not every country views the topics through the same lens. Different countries divide race and ethnicity into different possible elements (such as the number of possible ethnicities), and each country has its own system for measuring, classifying, and tracking diversity, whether it be via variations in race, ethnicity, or both.
For instance, the United States still uses the term "race", but treats it as a social identity rather than a biological or anthropological classification. Citizens voluntarily self-identify as White, Black or African American, American Indian, Asian, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Meanwhile, other countries may offer a different range of possible races, or may instead measure ethnicity or country of origin, such as English, German, East Indian, etc.
These incongruent approaches make it difficult to compare data between countries, and confound even the most ambitious attempts to create a universal set of constituent categories capable of containing the entirety of human diversity.
Throughout most of history, the world's population has been much smaller than it is now. Before the invention of agriculture, for example, the human population was estimated to be around 15 million people at most. For comparison, the world population in 2017 (~7 billion) was roughly equal to a full 6% of the estimated 110 billion people who have ever lived.
The introduction of agriculture and the gradual movement of humanity into settled communities enabled the global population to increase gradually to around 300 million by AD 0. While this is a substantial increase, it remains a tiny fraction of the current population. For example, the Roman Empire, which historians regard as one of the strongest empires the world has ever known, probably contained around 50 million people at its height—nearly 20 million less than the population of the UK today.
The world population would not reach its first major milestone—one billion people—until the early 19th century. Then, as the industrial revolution took hold and living standards improved, the rate of population growth increased considerably. Over the next hundred years, the population of the world doubled, reaching two billion in the late 1920s.
During the 20th century, however, population growth skyrocketed. Over the past 100 years, the planet's population has more than tripled in size. This massive increase in human population is largely due to improvements in diet, sanitation, and medicine, especially compulsory vaccination against many diseases, which have both improved life expectancy and decreased infant mortality rates all over the world.
While past population trends are fairly well known (only the specific dates of certain milestones are occasionally disputed), future trends are less clear. Most population experts agree that population increases will continue, albeit at an ever-decreasing rate, until the Earth's population reaches its ceiling, pauses, and begins to contract. However, the particulars of that process, such as the rate of increase, when and at what number the population will plateau, and the rate of decrease that will follow, are still the subject of much debate.
Most population experts tag steadily improving global standards of living as the cause of decreasing rates of population increase. As wealth and quality of life increase, the average family size will shrink and population growth will steadily slow and eventually stop.
However, other experts maintain that poverty, inequality and continued urbanization will have the opposite effect and cause a growth increase, particularly in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, where population growth is already much higher than the global average.
Still others predict a population decrease stemming from much bleaker causes. These experts speculate that the current world population is unsustainable in the long term and that humanity will reach a point at which we simply cannot produce enough food or utilize our natural resources efficiently enough to feed such a large population or sustain the global economy at its current scale.
2022 projections by the United Nations estimate that the global population could swell to 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and 10.4 billion by 2080. At that point, the population is expected to plateau before beginning to decline around the year 2100. Current population growth is driven in large part by advances in medicine, which are increasing life expectancy; and improved health care in developing and least-developed countries, which is decreasing infant mortality.
The rate of population growth is not equal in every country. According to the United Nations' 2022 World Population Prospects report, many of the world's 46 least-developed countries are expected to double in population from 2022 to 2050, placing them among the world's fastest-growing countries. Conversely, 61 of the world's countries are expected to decrease in population by at least 1% between 2022 and 2050. The largest contractions are expected to occur in Eastern Europe, while the largest growth will come from the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Although the population of the world currently grows daily, the overall rate of that growth has been slowing for decades. The rate of population growth peaked in 1970 at 2.06% growth per year, but had dropped to 1.78% by 1980. Rates remained relatively flat throughout the '80s, with a minimal rise to 1.80% by 1990. From there, however, the rate of population growth began to drop precipitously, falling to 1.37% in 2000, 1.27% in 2010, and 0.87% in 2020—the first time since 1950 that the growth rate had fallen below 1%. The United Nations predicts the global population growth rate will continue to decrease over the next several decades, until it dips into negative population growth around the year 2100.