Created: 1995. Updated: 21 June, 2002


Overpopulation - Quick Facts

  • World population is projected to increase from 6 to 9 billion in the next 50 years.
  • In low-income countries more than a third of the population is under age 15, while in high-income countries less than a fifth is.
  • The world’s population is growing by 200,000 people a day.
  • Between 1980 and 2030, the population of low- and middle-income countries will more than double -- to 7.0 billion, compared with 1 billion for high-income countries.
  • In the next 35 years, 2.5 billion people will be added to the current population of 6 billion.
  • Even if a worldwide limit of 2.1 children per couple were adopted tomorrow, population would continue to increase for a generation before stabilizing. The reason - population momentum," where today's children will grow up to have their own children while their parents are still alive.
  • U.S. population has doubled during the past 60 years to 270 million and, at the current growth rate, is projected to possibly double again, to 540 million, in the next 75 years. Each year our nation adds 3 million people (including legal immigrants) to its population, plus an estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants.
  • Increasing U.S. and global population will place restrictions on certain freedoms: freedom to travel and commute to work quickly and efficiently, freedom to visit and enjoy natural areas, freedom to select desired foods and freedom to be effectively represented by government
  • Today, more than 3 billion people suffer from malnutrition, the largest number and proportion of the world population in history, according to the World Health Organization. Malnutrition increases the susceptibility to diseases such as diarrhea and malaria.
  • One reason for the increase in malnutrition is that production of grains per capita has been declining since 1983. Grains provide 80 percent to 90 percent of the world's food. Each additional human further reduces available food per capita.
  • The reasons for this per capita decrease in food production are a 20 percent decline in cropland per capita, a 15 percent decrease in water for irrigation and a 23 percent drop in the use of fertilizers.
  • Biotechnology and other technologies apparently have not been implemented fast enough to prevent declines in per capita food production during the past 17 years.
  • Considering the resources likely to be available in A.D. 2100, the optimal world population would be about 2 billion, with a standard of living about half that of the US in the 1990s, or at the standard experienced by the average European.
-- from World Bank Population Growth Rate page and Will Limits of the Earth‘s Resources Control Human Numbers?, David Pimentel et al.,


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Copyright 1995-2003 Fred Elbel. This material may be freely used and distributed only for non-commercial purposes, with credit. Trademarks and copyrighted items remain the property of the owner.