LSE - Small Logo
LSE - Small Logo

Keith McDonald

July 13th, 2015

Demographer Dyson in demand ahead of World Population Day

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Keith McDonald

July 13th, 2015

Demographer Dyson in demand ahead of World Population Day

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Tim Dyson, Professor of Population Studies, LSE gives a keynote presentation on Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development. United Nations Headquarters, New York. UN DESA/S. Nijman [http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/commission/sessions/2015/]

Tim Dyson, Professor in Population and Development, has become a popular frame of reference recently ahead of World Population Day, which fell on Saturday 11 July.

The global population, which stood at about one billion by the year 1800, has been rising exponentially. Rapid growth in the last century means that more than seven billion people now occupy the Earth.

Thanks to advances in food production and health care, human population growth has taken on a “hockey stick-like trajectory” to the 21st century – an analogy made infamous by Michael E. Mann’s The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars, first published in 1999.

This demographic trend – which raises serious concerns about access to food, clean water, sanitation and adequate shelter – became the focus of the 2015 World Population Day.

Commemorating this, the Guardian Teacher Network chose to highlight an interactive resource featuring LSE’s Tim Dyson alongside Oxford’s Prof. David Coleman as a means of engaging young people with some of the major challenges involved with a swelling global population.

The network describes it as “a journey from the Neolithic revolution to the first rubber condom”, exploring how the world and its population has changed.

Fertility, Suffrage, and the Past

This is not to say that the exponential rate of growth can be explained simply by fertility rates, which (as understood by the UN World Population Prospects glossary) have been in decline.

Schuyler Null, editor for the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, has drawn upon Tim’s 2013 work, ‘On the Democratic and Demographic Transitions’, to discuss some of the reasons for this.

Alongside improved health care, which has improved survival rates for children and made it easier for couples to access conception, suffrage movements began the long process of liberating women (in Tim’s words) “from lives previously dominated by childbirth and childcare”.

Total fertility rates declined first in Europe, followed by the Americas and Asia, Null states. Africa has followed later and more slowly, and thus its future demographic trajectory is the source of much debate.

So, what’s the future?

Is the rapid growth in global population over the last 200 years here to stay?

Not according to the UN Population Division, the broadly accepted standard for demographic projections.

Among the challenges faced by the UNPD is that of making predictions for regions where demographic trends don’t follow historical norms, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility rates remain higher and less predictable than elsewhere.

The UNDP predicts a high probability that global population will increase by 2.5 to 5 billion in the next hundred years, and then begin to level off as contraception use growth grows and mortality rates fall.


 
In April, Tim Dyson addressed the UN Commission on how access to birth control could improve health and urban growth issues in the world’s least demographically developed countries.

Find out more here.


Related Posts

Tim Dyson UN Webcast

About the author

Keith McDonald

Posted In: Featured | News from the Department

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RSS Justice and Security Research Programme

  • JSRP and the future
    The JSRP drew to a close in 2017 but many of the researchers and partners involved in the programme continue to work on the issues and theories developed during the lifetime of the programme. Tim Allen now directs the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (FLCA) at LSE where many of the JSRP research team working […]
  • Life after the LRA
    The JSRP reached the end of its grant in spring 2017 but several outputs from the programme are scheduled for publication in the coming months. The most recent of these is a new journal article from Holly Porter and Letha Victor drawing on their extensive research with JSRP in the Acholi region of northern Uganda.  The […]

RSS LSE’s engagement with South Asia

  • How India’s tilted Foreign Policy paved China’s road to South Asia
    This post by Tarushi Aswani examines India’s relationship with fellow South Asian countries, and how recent foreign policy initiatives may have rendered the largest democracy in the world ‘friendless’ in its South Asian neighbourhood, paving the way further for China to make inroads into South Asia.   While Covid-19 might have rekindled SAARC members’ relationships […]
  • Covid Narratives of Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
    This blogpost is a collective first-person narration of the experiences of a group of women micro-entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, with a particular focus on the challenges posed to them during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. To retain the fluid nature of their conversations, the post is published as a free-flowing narrative. Acknowledgements to contributors and participants […]