How do we best approach the problem of unsustainable population growth? How do we cope with unprecedented rates of demographic change? What is the relationship between population size and conflict? And should we change retirement age as population age rises?
These are just some of the questions addressed special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B which the Bixby Center Co-edited.
The experts writing in this volume conclude that slowing population growth is essential if the world’s poor are to be lifted out of poverty, and if the next generations are to live in a biologically sustainable economy. Coming from many disciplines, the authors emphasize how the size, rate of growth and age structure of the human population interact with many other key factors, from environmental change – including atmospheric pollution – to conflict and the breakdown of governance. Fortunately, the assumption that people must become richer or better educated before they have fewer children is being replaced by a clearer understanding of the many barriers that separate women from the knowledge and technologies they need to manage the size of their family. When these barriers are removed, family size falls even in poor, illiterate communities. Conversely, as a result of lost attention to family planning since the 1990s, the projection for the population of several countries in 2050 has been raised (eg in Kenya from 54 to 83 million). Investment in family planning and education interact synergistically. It is therefore imperative that attention be given to the large and growing unmet need for family planning.
This special issue emerged out of the Bixby Scientific Forum The World in 2050: A Scientific Investigation of the Impact of Global Population Changes on a Divided Planet. You can read more about the forum at
You can view webcasts of the presentations at
Subscribers to Philosophical Transactions B can access this issue online at:
Royal Society: Impact of Population Growth on Tomorrow’s World