January 29, 2019

Which populations will halve

The map below compares the 2000 and projected 2100 populations.

  • Darkest red will lose over half of their 2000 population by 2100 (Bulgaria, for example, is projected to fall from over 7 million to slightly over 3 million);
  • Lighter red will lose some to up to half of their 2000 population (Russia will fall from 146 million to 124 million).
  • What I would call a pale beige color are those countries that will gain some, but will not double in size by 2100 (USA will rise from 281 million to 447 million, a gain of 1.59x). These are countries whose populations are largely stabilizing.
  • The light green countries will more than double but less than 4x their population (Swaziland will move from 1 million to 2.5 million).
  • Medium green countries will more than 4x but less than 8x their population (Chad will grow from 8 million to 62 million).
  • Darkest green countries will more than 8x their population by 2100 (Niger, for example, will more than 10x, growing from 11 million to 192 million, then nearly half the population of the United States).


Population gains and losses between AD 2000 and AD 2100.

While considering these growth patterns, keep in mind the absolute populations. Both Russia and China will have population declines, but neither will change their ‘order of magnitude’ (Russia will still be over 100 million; China will still be over 1 billion). The following maps show countries by total population categories (millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions) for 2000 and 2100.


National Populations, AD 2000
Source: UN Population Prospects 2017. Light green = over 1 million; medium green = over 10 million; dark green = over 100 million. (Grey = under 1 million)

National Populations, AD 2100

Same scale. Notice all the new “Over 100 million” countries, especially in Africa.


Some thoughts about these trends:

  • Global economic growth has been very dependent on global population growth. This will have to change. Many of the world’s most powerful economies will be seeing stagnation or even decline of population.
  • Stabilizing populations are largely due to a fall in fertility per woman, driven in large part by falling infant mortality and lengthening life spans. With fewer children per woman, women will have more time to devote to other pursuits, and this demographic change will thus impact social change. High-fertility countries with strong population growth will lack this demographic driver, and their family and gender dynamics, norms and expectations may vary from low-fertility areas for years to come. This could work itself out in religious differences between regions. What impact will Christian Africa, with some of these demographic norms, have on the rest of the world?
  • The fastest growing countries are in Africa. Some of these are large Muslim populations, but there are several significant Christian populations. By 2100, the five largest Christian populations seem likely to be: 1. Nigeria, 2. Congo-Kinshasa, 3. the USA, 4. Tanzania and 5. Uganda. Given the mix of large Muslim and Christian populations, continued religious tension seems likely. Africa is already home to significant religious violence in various forms, and this will probably continue. Environmental and economic stress will only aggravate existing tensions.
  • The interaction of China with the African continent is something to consider. As Africa’s economy develops and its ties with China increase, how much influence will African Christianity have on China?