World Demographic Trends
The world is in the midst of dramatic demographic changes. The Global Social Change Research Project recently made significant updates to their reports describing these changes, using data from the UN.
Briefly, world population has grown over the last 60 years, from 2.5 billion in 1950 to almost 7 billion in 2010. However, growth varied by region, increasing the most in Africa, then in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia, and increasing the least in Europe.
In addition, while population is still increasing in all regions, the increase has been slowing, and the slowing varied by region. For example, annual average growth rates in Asia declined from 2.1% during 1950-1955 to 1.1% during 2005-2010. On the other hand, European growth rates declined much more, from 1% during 1950-1955 to 0.2% during 2005-2010. Sub-Saharan African growth rates in 2005-2010 (2.6%) were actually higher than they were in 1950-1955 (2.2%). However, this is because average annual growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa increased to a high of 3% in the 1980s and have since been declining, to the level lower than the 1980s level, but still higher than the 1950s level.
As a consequence of the differing growth rates, and differing slow down of growth rates, the proportion of world population that is from each region has changed over time. The largest change was that Sub-Saharan Africa increased from 7.4% of world population in 1950 to 12.4% in 2010, while Europe declined from 21.6% to 10.7%.
The remainder of the reports describe why these changes happened, discussing trends in births, deaths, fertility, migration, and age distributions.