World Population Growth Revisited. 1960-2030 Some Preliminary Remarks

Abstract

This paper wants to enlarge evidence presented in the exploratory article by Camps and Engerman, “World Population Growth: The Force of Recent Historical Trends”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 44:4, 2014. Before the worldwide epidemic impact on mortality caused by Covid 19, world population was growing at a fast track. By 2005-2010 United Nations authorities and the World Bank were regarding population growth vis-à-vis resource availability as an important economic problem in the mid run. The origin of this sort of ideas dates back at least to Malthus on population pressure, diminishing marginal returns of land, scarcity of calories and therefore increase of prices. Before the first industrial revolution only epidemics could threat population growth as to loosen pressure on economic resources. The situation in the period we want to study is very different. By the second half of the 20th century the main reason behind population growth was the great improvement of life expectancies. In OECD countries life expectancies nearly doubled during the 20th century. The overall world situation was one of convergence. All continents with the exception of Africa were improving their mortality conditions. But Camps and Engerman (2014) prove that these facts were counterbalanced in years 1960-2010 by a similar in intensity but opposite in direction trend of fertility. In all continents with the exception of Africa fertility was diminishing, converging to low levels, though with some delay with respect to mortality, causing the population explosion (demographic transition). A very significant variable when explaining fertility evolution is female’s education. One year more of education of mothers led to 0,33 less children per couple. Pandemics, different marriage patterns (polygamy), poverty and a different role of children for the family economy draw a different picture in African countries. In this paper we present further quantitative evidence on the impact of population growth, using population growth as an approximate proxy of the aggregated demand evolution at the world level, on prices and output as well as the population growth projections of the twenty first century.