People spooked by concerns about overpopulation face a scary estimate this Halloween: The world population is expected to hit the 7 billion mark on Halloween.
The estimate was made by the United Nations Population Fund in a news release emailed Wednesday to journalists.
The agency said the number may represent good news and bad.
On the one hand, “the record population size can be viewed in many ways as a success for humanity because it means people are living longer and more children are surviving worldwide,” the agency said.
On the other, the agency said, “Great disparities exist among and within countries and in rights and opportunities between men and women, girls and boys, as evidenced by the fact that that 215 million women of child-bearing age in developing countries lack access to voluntary family planning, while millions of adolescent girls and boys there have little access to sex education and information on how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV.”
“We should be investing in the health and education of our youth,” said agency director Babatunde Osotimehin. “This would yield enormous returns in economic growth and development for generations to come.”
Of the world’s 7 billion, 1.8 billion are young people between the ages of 10 and 24, Osotimehin said. “Young people hold the key to the future, with the potential to transform the global political landscape and to propel economies through their creativity and capacities for innovation.
“But the opportunity to realize youth’s great potential must be seized now. We should be investing in the health and education of our youth. This would yield enormous returns in economic growth and development for generations to come.”
The population of the U.S. is estimated at about 307 million by the U.S. Census Bureau, or roughly four percent of the world’s population.
Being greatly outnumbered has many Americans wondering what place the United States will have in the world during the remainder of this century and beyond.
Foreign Affairs, a publication of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, devotes several pages to a discussion of the question, “Is America Over?”
“The United States can no longer afford a world-spanning foreign policy,” one essay states. “Retrenchment — cutting military spending, redefining foreign priorities, and shifting more of the defense burden to allies — is the only sensible course. History shows that pausing to recharge national batteries can renew a dominant power’s international legitimacy.”