Global Demographic Transition

For Lester Brown of Worldwatch: Being interested in all things earthly as well as universal, I was happy to see your article emphasizing recent declines in the rate of global population growth. I was a little surprised, however, that you didn't mention the most important year affecting Homo sapiens: 1989. That was the year marking the Inflection Point for the Global Demographic Transition. Global population change reached a maximum of 88 million in that year. It has been declining ever since. If, as I have hypothesized, the “population bust” is a mirror image of the “population bomb,” then global population eventually will reach 10 billion—twice what it was at the Inflection Point, but only after several centuries:

From Borchardt (2007, p. 290) with a little help from the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

This figure shows that the global population will be about 8.5 billion in 2050. It will not reach the United Nations “medium projection” of 9.2 billion and certainly not the “high projection” of 10.8 billion by that time. It probably will be greater than the “low projection” of under 8 billion in 2041 and it is unlikely to decline for centuries.

The Global Demographic Transition cannot receive enough attention. It is behind the current globalization of the economic system. It parallels the Industrial Revolution, the urbanization of the planet, and the rapid expansion of capital. This will continue, but instead of ever increasing profits, we will have to contend with ever decreasing profits. Instead of ever increasing economic growth and resource exploitation, the watchwords will be ever increasing economic stability and sustainability. There will be growth pains aplenty, but there will be no turning back. The juvenile stage in the evolution of humanity will be pretty much complete by 2050.


Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The Scientific Worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.

Brown, Lester, 2009, Moving to a Stable World Population

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