United Nations Population Fund moves Day of 6 Billion based on new population esitmates

NEW YORK, 28 October 1998 -- The United Nations Population Fund today announced that the Day of Six Billion, the day world population reaches 6 billion, will be marked on 12 October 1999. The new date is based on revised population estimates* released today by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

"This is very encouraging news," said Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund. "Declines in fertility levels have pushed back the date the world population will reach 6 billion people from 16 June 1999 to 12 October 1999.

"However world population is still increasing by 78 million people a year. Ninety-seven per cent of that increase is in developing countries, where access to family planning and reproductive health services is limited and where pregnancy and childbirth are still a risk to the lives and health of women," said Dr. Sadik.

The projections confirm that fertility levels in developing countries are continuing to decline. This trend is in part the result of better reproductive health and family planning services and improved education of women. There is also evidence of long term decline to below replacement levels in most industrialized countries.

"The glass is half full," said Dr. Sadik. "We need to continue striving for women's right to reproductive health care, including family planning, and the right of women and men to decide the size and spacing of their families. We must work to promote gender equality and equity and women's empowerment. We have come half way towards the goal of slowing overall population growth but there are no guarantees that this success will continue."

Tragically, part of the slowdown in population growth, according to the new estimates, is a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has a tremendous destabilizing impact on communities, families and children. In Botswana, the hardest-hit country, one adult in four is infected with HIV. According to Population Division estimates life expectancy in Botswana is projected to fall to 41 years by 2005, 29 years less than expected in the absence of AIDS.

Nevertheless, Botswana's population is still projected to double between 1995 and 2050.

"UNAIDS is leading the way in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is joined in that fight by the United Nations Population Fund and other sponsor organizations. We need to increase the availability of quality reproductive health care to stop this epidemic and enable women in particular to protect themselves and their families against HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Sadik.

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1998 Revision -- World Population, Estimates and Projections:

  • World Population reached:

1 billion in 1804
2 billion in 1927 (123 years later)
3 billion in 1960 (33 years later)
4 billion in 1974 (14 years later)
5 billion in 1987 (13 years later)

It is expected to reach:

6 billion in 1999 (12 years later)
7 billion in 2013 (14 years later)
8 billion in 2028 (15 years later)

  • In 1950 the population of Europe was 2.5 times larger than that of Africa. In 1998 Africa's population (749 million) is larger than that of Europe (729 million). By 2050 it is estimated that the population of Africa will be three times larger than that of Europe.
  • The mid-1998 world population stood at 5.9 billion with 4.7 billion (80 per cent) in the less developed regions and 1.2 billion (20 per cent) in the more developed regions.
  • Currently two out of every five people in the world live in China (1.3 billion) or India (982 million).
  • Every year the population of Asia is increasing by 50 million, the population of Africa by 17 million and that of Latin America and the Caribbean by nearly 8 million.
  • The fastest population growth will take place in Africa. Its population will more than double during the first half of the 21st century.

* 1998 Revision -- World Population Estimates and Projections. Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations.

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