7 Billion and Counting

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 562-569
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209290


The world is currently in the midst of the greatest demographic upheaval in human history. Dramatic reductions in mortality, followed (but with a lag) by equally marked reductions in fertility, resulted in a doubling of world population between 1960 and 2000. A further increase of 2 to 4.5 billion is projected for the current half-century, with the increase concentrated in the world’s least developed countries. Despite alarmist predictions, historical increases in population have not been economically catastrophic. Moreover, changes in population age structure have opened the door to increased prosperity. Demographic changes have had and will continue to have profound repercussions for human well-being and progress, with some possibilities for mediating those repercussions through policy intervention.

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