World population

The world’s population now exceeds 7.8 billion people. Our population is still growing by more than 80 million people every year and is likely to keep growing until the end of the century, unless we take action.

It took the human population until 1800 to reach 1 billion people – we now add a billion more every 12 to 15 years. Since 1970, our numbers have more than doubled.

Learn more about our numbers here.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about world population below.

5 March 2017

Is the Pope heeding warnings about population?

According to an unconfirmed report, Pope Francis has urged people to have fewer children in order to address environmental concerns. However, the Catholic Church’s opposition to artificial contraception remains in place.

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24 January 2017

18 million Chinese babies since end of one child policy

The Chinese government has released figures for births in 2016, the first full year since the end of the country’s one child policy. The 18m number is 7.9% above the number in 2015. According to a senior Chinese official, “the family planning policy adjustments were extremely timely and extremely effective”.

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11 January 2017

Chris Packham speaks out on impact of population

I remember when this was all fields full of birds and butterflies.” It’s a cliché isn’t it . . . but those words frequently describe changes most adults have seen if they have been fortunate enough to spend time in the countryside. It’s also a powerful metaphor for the wider situation we find ourselves in today.

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2016 Overshoot Index

Table indicating degree of ecological overshoot of nations, based on Global Footprint Network data

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9 December 2016

Panic and pragmatism: population in Korea and Japan

South Korea’s official statistics agency has just announced that it expects the country’s population to shrink by 8 million over the next 50 years. Currently around  50 million, the agency projects that the population will peak at 52.96 million in 2031 and then gradually decline to 43 million in 2065.

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27 October 2016

WWF: we are facing the next global mass extinction

The 2016 Living Planet report published by WWF today pulls no punches in describing the devastation to our natural world caused by human activity. The report calculates that by 2020 populations of wild vertebrate animals will have declined by nearly 70 per cent since 1970.

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Food

Sustainability Insights

Recent UN statistics confirm that the number of undernourished people in the world has been decreasing, but not fast enough to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1c) target to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015.1

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14 July 2016

Our 25th anniversary

The Optimum Population Trust (OPT) was founded by David Willey and others on 24 July 1991. Its goals were: “to collect, analyze and disseminate information about the sizes of global and national populations and to link this to a study of carrying capacities and inhabitants’ quality of life in order to support policy decisions.”

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The JOURNAL OF POPULATION Matters Issue 1 Spring 2015

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The JOURNAL OF POPULATION Matters Issue 1 Spring 2015

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