What South Africa’s population will look like in 2050

New data from the United Nations laying out population growth projections to the year 2100 shows that Africa is set to experience the highest growth in people in the world.

According to the UN, as of July 2015 there are 7.3 billion people in the world – a billion more than in 2003.

Taking into account current and projected fertility rates and age expectancy across the globe, this figure is set to hit 9.7 billion people in 2050, and 11.2 billion people by the 22nd century.

Regionally, Africa is set to show the largest growth, while currently world leader in population share, Asia, is expected to drop.

Projected global population
Projected global population

“Africa’s share of global population is projected to grow to 25% in 2050 and 39% by 2100, while the share residing in Asia will fall to 54% in 2050 and 44% in 2100,” the UN report said.

Africa’s growth will be led by the continent’s leading economy by GDP, Nigeria, which will experience the fastest population growth in the world, according to the UN’s projections.

Nigeria’s population is expected to more than double in the next 35 years to overtake the United States as the third most populace country in the world with 399 million people.

Top 10 nations by population (2015 – 2100) in millions

Country 2015 Country 2050 Country 2100
China 1 376 India 1 705 India 1 660
India 1 311 China 1 348 China 1 004
USA 322 Nigeria 399 Nigeria 752
Indonesia 258 USA 389 USA 450
Brazil 208 Indonesia 321 DRC 389
Pakistan 189 Pakistan 310 Pakistan 364
Nigeria 182 Brazil 238 Indonesia 314
Bangladesh 161 Bangladesh 202 Tanzania 299
Russia 143 DRC 195 Ethiopia 243
Mexico 127 Ethiopia 188 Niger 209

Unlike the other countries like China and India, Nigeria’s booming population is expected to keep growing beyond 2050, hitting close to 800 million people by the 22nd century – another doubling in a world where China is likely to sink to just above 1 billion people.

Where does South Africa fit in?

While South Africa is not set for a population slump, it’s not likely to be going anywhere either, according to the United Nations’ figures.

The country is currently at 54.4 million people – the 24th largest population in the world – and is expected to hit around 65.5 million people by 2050 (29th largest).

And the projected number heading into the future…is pretty much exactly the same – around 65.7 million.

This is due to declining fertility rates in the country – 2.4 children per woman in 2015, to 1.8 children in 2050 and 2100 – as well as greater longevity.

While only 7.7% of the population currently make it past 60 years of age, by 2050 this is expected to be 15.4%, hitting 27.8% by the next century.

Changing population growth rates
Changing population growth rates

The median age (splitting the age groups in half) will also move up from 25.7 in 2015 to 33.9 in 2050 and 42.5 in 2100.

The net result is on older population having fewer children over the next few decades, keeping the country’s population fairly stable.

It’s worth noting, however,  that a recent report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa anticipates the country’s population to hit 67.3 million people by 2035.

South Africa’s numbers are slightly out of line with the rest of Africa, which like Nigeria, is expected to be the only region in the world to experience significant growth.

Between 2015 and 2050, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double. By 2100, ten African countries are projected to increase by at least five-fold.

Africa also has a very young population, where children under 15 account for 41% of the total population in 2015 – and has one of the highest fertility rates (4.9 children per woman) which shows no signs of significant slow-down (4.7 by 2100).

“The large number of young people currently (in Africa) who will reach adulthood in the coming years and have children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.”

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What South Africa’s population will look like in 2050