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News | 15 Nov 2022

The EU in the world of 8 billion people

The world population is expected to reach 8 billion around 15 November 2022. A new story of the Atlas of Demography illustrates EU population trends in the context of ever-growing global population.

On 15 November, the global population is expected to reach a new milestone—8 billion.

The global population is projected to continue to grow at least for the next 40 years, although the pace of the growth is slowing down at global level. The pace has been slowing down since the 1970s, dropping below 1% per year for the first time in 2020.

It took about 12 years (from 2010 to 2022) for the global population to grow from 7 to 8 billion, but it is expected that it will take approximately 14.5 years for the population to reach 9 billion people. This would happen approximately in 2037.

EU population is ageing and shrinking, Asia and Africa still growing

The share of the EU population, as well as the populations of the other European (non-EU) countries and North America, has remained relatively stable over time.

But the EU’s population is ageing rapidly and in many European regions the population is already shrinking.

Over the past twenty years, the populations of Asia and Africa have grown exponentially and this trend is expected to continue.

Half of the people that contributed to the “8th billion” are from Asia. Africa made the second largest contribution (almost 400 million). Africa’s population is expected to reach 2 billion by 2038.

The greatest contribution towards the 9th million is expected to come from Africa (with 550 million), which will overtake population growth in Asia.

The share of Europe’s population in the global population is shrinking, and Europe’s contribution to future population growth is projected to be negative.

Population dynamics need to be understood to grasp opportunities for growth

All countries experience demographic change in different manners. Population dynamics in Europe are to be seen in conjunction with global demographic trends, with parts of the world still going through the demographic transition from high birth rates and high death rates to low birth rates and death rates.

Changes in the population size and composition are largely foreseeable, shaped by demographic processes that unfold over decades.

Understanding these changes is key to better anticipating the impact of population dynamics. This presents opportunities globally and in Europe to rethink, innovate and devise sustainable policies that help accompany populations through demographic change - the third transition that the world is going through.

In the EU, investing in education and increasing labour market participation, in particular of women, will be key for maintaining a high level of human capital, productivity and well-being.

Commission focus on demography

Since 2019, the European Commission has a portfolio on demography and democracy. Its objective is to ensure that the EU understands and responds to one of its deepest lying challenges: demographic change.

Emphasis in the Commission initiatives is placed on making sure that our focus remains on the quality of life, by fostering intergenerational solidarity, accompanying the ageing of the European population, encouraging lifelong learning, dealing with brain drain and harnessing talents, and also ensuring the right work-family balance – all this by making sure that nobody is ever left behind

Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica, who leads the Commission demography portfolio

This work is underpinned by the different dimensions of the Atlas of Demography, which captures demographic change in Europe in a very tangible manner.