Population growth slower than expected U.N. survey finds gain in stabilization


UNITED NATIONS -- A new survey by the United Nations has found that the world's population is growing almost everywhere more slowly than expected even a few years ago. The study also found that the number of people being added to the world each year has begun to fall sooner than anticipated.

"The world's population is stabilizing sooner than we thought," said Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Population Division, which collects and analyzes population data. "We had some glimmer that this was occurring several years ago, but we weren't sure if it was simply a blip. Now we actually have concrete results showing this is a global trend."

The new U.N. figures, covering 1990 to 1995, show a population growth rate worldwide of 1.48 percent a year, significantly lower than the 1.57 percent projected by the previous report in 1994. The world therefore already has 29 million fewer people than expected.

In the same 1990-1995 period, fertility also declined, to an average of 2.96 children per woman. The projected figure had been 3.1. By 2050, U.N. analysts say, the world's population could be 9.4 billion, nearly half a billion lower than 1994 projections. The United Nations says there are now 5.77 billion people on Earth.

The new figures, circulating among United Nations agencies, will be published with analysis and commentary in a book early next year.

"There is no guarantee that these trends will be sustained," said Chamie, an American. "They could stagnate or switch back."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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