Population will double in world's poorest regions by 2050, from 828 million to 1.66 billion, predicts the non-profit Population Reference Bureau, Washington.
While the more developed West is itself struggling to cope with a major economic crisis, the least developed countries (LDCs) could be in for a lot more trouble.
All countries in Africa, Asia (except Japan), Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania (except Australia and New Zealand) come under the UN rubric of LDC. Of the 49 countries in this category, 33 are in Africa. They all have the lowest incomes, highest economic vulnerability and poorest human-development indicators.
Ironically, though, the LDCs saw an unprecedented decline in death rates in LDCs brought about by the spread of public health measures, health care, and disease prevention, particularly after the end of World War II in 1945. These improvements evolved over centuries in the more developed countries (MDCs), but the LDCs were able to benefit from them much more quickly. During the 20th century, nearly 90 percent of population growth took place in the LDC countries.
The geographic imbalance in population growth seen in recent years will only intensify in the years to come, the Washington agency said in data released last week.
Between 2009 and 2050, virtually all population growth will take place in the LDCs. The small amount of population growth projected for MDCs will be largely accounted for by the United States and Canada. In many MDCs, most growth will likely be due to immigration from LDCs.
In the United States, however, natural increase (births minus deaths) still accounts for more than 50 percent of annual population growth. While the LDCs are projected to increase from 5.6 billion in 2009 to 8.1 billion in 2050, the MDCs are projected to grow from 1.2 billion to just 1.3 billion.
Worldwide, the population could hit 9.4 billion in 2050, up from 6.8 billion today and topping 7 billion in the latter half of 2011. By 2050, India will overtake China as the world's most populous country.