Older & healthier: How South Africans will stack up by 2100

22 June 2017 - 12:09 By Dave Chambers
The UN says the world population of 7.6 billion will balloon in the coming decade‚ driven largely by high birth rates in Africa.
The UN says the world population of 7.6 billion will balloon in the coming decade‚ driven largely by high birth rates in Africa.
Image: iStock

A UN report predicting that the world’s population will be almost 10 billion by 2050 points to fundamental 21st century shifts for South Africa.

Among the South African findings of the 2015 revision of the UN’s World Population Prospects are:

  • The population will grow from 54.5 million in 2015 to 65.54 million in 2050 and 65.7 million in 2100;
  • By 2050 it will be the world’s 29th biggest country by population size;
  • The proportion of the population in the 0-14 age group will fall from 29.2% in 2015 to 21.4% in 2050 and 16.6% in 2100;
  • The proportion of over-60s will increase from 8.7% in 2015 to 17.5% in 2050 and 34.6% in 2100;
  • The median age will increase from 25.7 in 2015 to 33.9 in 2050 and 42.5 in 2100;
  • The average number of children per woman will decline from 2.4 in 2010-2015 to 1.87 in 2045-2050 and 1.8 in 2095-2100;
  • Life expectancy at birth will increase from 57.1 in 2010-2015 to 68.2 in 2045-2050 and 77.6 in 2095-2100;
  • Infant mortality will decline from 38.3 deaths per 1‚000 live births in 2010-2015 to 18.8 in 2045-2050 and 10.2 in 2095-2100; and
  • Under-five mortality will decline from 50.8 deaths per 1‚000 live births to 22.7 in 2045-2050 and 12 by 2095-2100.


The UN says the world population of 7.6 billion will balloon in the coming decade‚ driven largely by high birth rates in Africa.

India will surpass China as the most populous country inside the next seven years‚ while Nigeria will overtake the US and become the world's third most populous country shortly before 2050.

Europe‚ which currently has a birth rate of 1.6 children per woman‚ is set to see a decline in population in the coming decades.

The report by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said roughly 83 million people are added to the world’s population every year.

The upward trend is expected to continue even with a continuing decline in fertility rates‚ which have fallen steadily since the 1960s.

John Wilmoth‚ director of the Population Division‚ said: “The population in Africa is notable for its rapid rate of growth‚ and it is anticipated that over half of global population growth between now and 2050 will take place in that region.”

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