4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
The world population is just shy of 8 billion and is the largest it has ever been and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Or does it? The factors that have brought us to this point in the global population are changing and the demographic will be utterly different in the coming decades.
In Tomorrow’s People, Paul Morland takes ten numbers that show different ways that it is changing and speculates on the way that the global population will differ in the future. Beginning with the number 10, the current infant mortality rate in Peru per 1000 births, he shows how the advent of medicine and better healthcare means that they have been able to halve the rate in only 25 years. This doesn’t’ mean that they will have a population boom though, as people who lose fewer children have fewer babies in the end.
His next number is 4 billion, this is the current population of Africa, and as he says, it is this figure that will change global politics in so many ways. This continent is growing so fast as it has a high birth rate and there is improving infant mortality. Not only will the population head out from there but there is massive internal migration too with a whole series of factors behind it. Just over a century ago there were about a dozen cities with a population of over one million people. Now China alone has 121 cities that have a population that size. India has over forty now and most people couldn’t name hardly any of them. In this chapter, he explains how the urban environment sucks in people and resources and how they will set the trends for the population in future
The figure that is needed to maintain a steady population is about 2.1 children. In Singapore, though the fertility rate is 1. We are beginning to think that overpopulation of the world might not be a problem as many countries are now showing these low rates for a raft of reasons, which he goes into in this chapter. This coupled with ageing populations, the median age in Catalonia is now 43 and in other countries is higher still is also adding to the decline in some countries’ populations.
I thought the concept behind this book really worked well. Morland takes the way that the world is changing by exploring ten numbers from populations and countries around the world and expanding them in detail. Not only is it a way of understanding how we have got to where we are at the moment, but it is a good way of seeing the way that the world is heading in the short and medium-term. For me this book worked really well, I liked the way that a simple statistic can explain so much about the world in the past and the way that it is going to be shaped tomorrow.