Different near future population prospects

The future of global demographics presents many different population prospects, each colored by different assumptions about key factors like fertility rates. The United Nations Population Division’s study “Future Population Growth” by Roser and Rodes-Guirao (2019) offers a fascinating glimpse into this future by presenting four distinct scenarios: the Low Variant, Medium Variant, High Variant, and the Constant Fertility scenario. Each scenario paints a unique picture of what our world might look like by the year 2100, influenced primarily by changes in fertility rates.

different variants with different population prospects exist

Low Variant

The Low Variant projection suggests a significant shift towards smaller family sizes, influenced by factors like enhanced access to education, particularly for women, widespread availability of reproductive health services, and a cultural shift towards later childbearing. It represents a world adapting to urbanization and embracing family planning, leading to a substantial decline in birth rates. This scenario predicts a world where the population stands at 7 billion by 2100, driven by a fertility rate of 1.5 children per woman.

Medium Variant

The Medium Variant is often considered the most probable scenario. This projection strikes a balance, assuming a continuation of current trends towards lower fertility rates but at a more moderate pace. It reflects the impact of continued improvements in healthcare and education, coupled with the socioeconomic changes that come with development. This scenario is significant as it aligns closely with the replacement fertility rate, where the number of births roughly equals the number of deaths, leading to a relatively stable population size. It predicts a world population of just over 10 billion by 2100 with a fertility rate of 2.0 children per woman.

High Variant

The High Variant scenario might emerge from a combination of factors such as lower access to contraception, cultural or religious norms favoring larger families, or proactive policies encouraging higher birth rates in countries experiencing population decline. The High Variant underscores the potential consequences of even a small increase in fertility rates on global population growth. In the High Variant, the world sees a substantial increase in population to just under 15 billion by 2100, propelled by a higher fertility rate of 2.5 children per woman.

Constant Fertility

The Constant Fertility scenario, a theoretical construct, projects an astounding world population exceeding 20 billion by 2100, assuming that the current fertility rates remain unchanged across all countries. This model serves as a crucial reminder of the dynamic nature of population growth and the profound impact that sustained high fertility rates can have on the world’s demographic landscape.


These diverse scenarios emphasize the critical role of fertility rates in shaping future population dynamics. Each scenario presents unique challenges and opportunities, from managing resources and sustaining economies to addressing environmental concerns and ensuring social welfare.

The future of global population growth is not just a question of numbers; it’s a complex interplay of human behavior, policy, and socio-economic development. The scenarios presented by the UN offer insight into the possible futures of our world.

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