Population Review Mourns the Loss of Our Executive Director

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Joseph Palmer Roberts on 20 August 2022. Joseph was the key figure who reestablished Population Review as an online-only journal in 2003, and ensured its continuity until contracting the illness that took his life. Thanks to Joseph, Population Review has persisted more than 60 years since its founding in 1957 by Dr. Sripati Chandrasekhar (1918-2001). Joseph guided Population Review with patience, wisdom, determination, and understanding across two decades. He will be missed by us as we continue his work supporting Population Review and its mission to promote social demographic research worldwide and a healthier, more sustainable future for generations to come.


William J. Haller and Heili Pals
Editors, Population Review

Featured Advisory Board Member

Vijai P. Singh is a member of our advisory board.  He is Professor at the Department of Sociology, The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, and he holds several affiliations: University Center for International Studies, Asian Studies Center, European Studies Center and University Center for Social and Urban Research. In addition to Social Stratification and Mobility, his research interests include the study of Sociology of Science.  He is engaged in a comparative study of the processes of production of scientific knowledge in the U.S. and Western Europe, including the roles of relevant political, economic, and social institutions. In addition, Prof. Singh is collaborating with academics in India on three different research and publication projects that deal with sustainable development, poverty, and economic policies at federal and local levels.








Featured Author

Konstantinos N. Zafeiris is an associate professor of Demography in the Department of History and Ethnology, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece. He received his doctorate in demography after studying the demographic and biological profile of isolated populations. His research focuses on mortality, health, population modelling, fertility, and palaeodemography.  He has also studied the demographic and genealogical structure of isolated populations in Greece from the point of view of anthropological demography.

Recent article in Population ReviewHow to Study Life Expectancy at Birth (e0) Differences between The Two Genders: A Methodological Proposition



PRB Releases 2022 World Population Data Sheet, Providing Comprehensive Look at COVID-19 Pandemic's Demographic Impacts in More Than 200 Countries

Pandemic impact

Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

PBS, b 

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2022—The COVID-19 pandemic caused nearly 15 million excess deaths in 2020 and 2021, accounting for 12% of all deaths globally and contributing to declines in life expectancy in some countries, including the United States.


Those are among the findings in PRB’s newly released 2022 World Population Data Sheet, providing a global picture of the pandemic’s impacts on mortality and fertility patterns.


Published annually since 1962, PRB’s World Population Data Sheet is a leading resource for policymakers, educators, and researchers seeking reliable demographic data. The 60th edition charts indicators for more than 200 countries and territories.


“Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finally getting a clearer and more nuanced picture of its impact across countries and communities,” PRB President and CEO Jeffrey Jordan said. “We hope the data and evidence in the 2022 World Population Data Sheet can provide greater insights for decisionmakers.”


Other key findings in the 2022 Data Sheet include:


♦ Between January 2020 and December 2021, the pandemic contributed to 12% of total deaths globally, directly or indirectly. Central America was hardest hit, with more than 25% of deaths associated with the pandemic.


♦  Around 7.46 million excess deaths occurred on average in both 2020 and 2021, leading to nearly 15 million excess deaths over the two-year period. Excess deaths measure the difference between the number of actual deaths and the number of deaths that would have been expected had the pandemic not occurred.


♦  Between 2019 and 2021, life expectancy in the United States declined from 78 years to 76 years—reversing 30 years of gains. Global life expectancy at birth is 75 years for women and 70 years for men.


♦  The global population rose slightly to just under 8 billion people. India is projected to have the greatest absolute increase in population size of any country between 2022 and 2050, rising by more than 253 million to 1.67 billion.


♦  The pandemic’s impact on fertility rates was less significant than expected and largely temporary. High-income countries such as Italy, Germany and the United States experienced small declines in births in 2020, rebounding in 2021. Low- and middle-income countries saw little to no fertility impacts.


♦  The global total fertility rate (TFR)—lifetime number of births per woman—is 2.3, still above the replacement-level TFR of approximately 2.1 births per woman.


“As more data and analysis become available, we are seeing how different populations were impacted unequally by the pandemic,” said Toshiko Kaneda, PRB’s Technical Director, Demographic Research. “Understanding how the pandemic’s impacts varied across groups is critical to prepare for future pandemics and crises.”

Click here to download a free copy of PRB’s 2022 World Population Data Sheet.

World Population Reaches the 8 Billion Milestone


Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@kevinjyoung?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Kevin Young</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/wallpapers/travel/city?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

Photo by Kevin Young on Unsplash

CNN, by Tara Subramaniam– Tue November 15, 2022

The world’s population will reach 8 billion people on Tuesday, representing a “milestone in human development” before birth rates start to slow, according to a projection from the United Nations.

In a statement, the UN said the figure meant 1 billion people had been added to the global population in just 12 years.

“This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries,” the UN statement read.

Middle-income countries, mostly in Asia, accounted for most of the growth over the past decade, gaining some 700 million people since 2011. India added about 180 million people, and is set to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation next year.

But even while the global population reaches new highs, demographers note the growth rate has fallen steadily to less than 1% per year. This should keep the world from reaching 9 billion people until 2037. The UN projects the global population will peak at around 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and remain at that level until 2100.

Most of the 2.4 billion people to be added before the global population peaks will be born in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN, marking a shift away from China and India.

Environmental impact

Reaching an 8 billion global population “is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said in the UN statement.

Having more people on Earth puts more pressure on nature, as people compete with wildlife for water, food and space. Meanwhile, rapid population growth combined with climate change is also likely to cause mass migration and conflict in coming decades, experts say.

And whether it’s food or water, batteries or gasoline, there will be less to go around as the global population grows. But how much they consume is equally important, suggesting policymakers can make a big difference by mandating a shift in consumption patterns.

Carbon emissions of the richest 1%, or about 63 million people, were more than double the emissions of the poorest half of humanity between 1990 and 2015, according to a 2020 analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute and non-profit Oxfam International.

Resource pressure will be especially daunting in African nations, where populations are expected to boom, experts say. These are also among the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, and most in need of climate finance.

Sexual violence in conflict: Overlooked, under-reported and in danger of being “normalized”

UNITED NATIONS, New York – As militants boasted about how they would divide the girls among themselves, Khetam*, a Syrian refugee in Iraq, feared for her life. “Two commanders had chosen me and my friend as their brides,” she recalled to UNFPA. The so-called “marriage” would mean rape and control for as long as the militants desired. “When we objected that we were too young to wed, they beat us and tortured us for most of that night, until we had no choice but to relent.” Sexual violence in conflict settings remains widespread and systematic, a recent report by the United Nations Secretary-General found, fuelled by “rising inequality, increased militarization, reduced civic space and the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, among other factors.” Conflict-related sexual violence – which includes assault, rape, forced marriage, trafficking, sexual slavery, forced sterilization, forced abortion other forms of sexual coercion – is used to instill fear, pain, suffering and censorship in its targets. Survivors, as well as their families, endure long-term consequences, from post-traumatic stress, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and social stigma to the threat of retaliation should they seek legal advice or report the attacks.


As crises proliferate and conflicts drag on, more women and girls are telling UNFPA that violence against them is becoming “normalized” – a disturbing and growing collective acceptance of this crime, usually while both protection mechanisms and legal accountability for perpetrators crumble in the chaos of conflict. Maya*, a Syrian refugee in Jordan, described how “many of my friends have experienced this [gender-based violence], some on a daily basis. They are continuously harassed, beaten, and forced to marry so young when they don’t want to… it ends up harming and sometimes killing them.


Physical and psychological barriers to supporting survivors


Access to health care, including psychosocial and sexual and reproductive health services, is severley disrupted in conflict settings, while humanitarian delivery of essential services is fraught with challenges. From pervasive instability to destroyed roads and infrastructure and obstructed access, those most in need are most often the hardest to reach. Even when services are available, survivors may be afraid to seek them out due to shame or a fear of being ostracized by their communities, or further punished by their attackers. In South Sudan, which is recording soaring rates of sexual violence as conflict rages on, just leaving home to seek basic necessities is rife with danger. For 14-year-old Achol*, fetching water was enough to put her life in jeopardy. “When I was at the tap, a strange man walked towards me. He grabbed me and stuffed a t-shirt in my mouth, dragging me to an abandoned building where he raped me and threatened to kill me.” Her attacker has yet to be apprehended.


Entrenched gender inequality is as much a driver of sexual violence as it is a barrier to preventing it. The threat of violence often robs girls of their education, fear shuttering them in their homes to take on ever more onerous household and caregiving duties. Survivors can suffer debilitating injuries and be shunned by society and their families. UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem described the prevalence of and lack of accountability for sexual violence in conflict as largely “due to the persistence of blatantly discriminatory ideas, including men thinking they are entitled to the ‘spoils’ of war and that women and girls are useable and disposable.”


Challenges of reporting on a “silent crime”


For every survivor who is able to tell their story, there are thousands who will be forever silent – or silenced. Sexual violence is a vastly under-reported crime even in peacetime. In conflict settings, the barriers to reporting only multiply. Many citizens, journalists and humanitarians who promote accountability or do manage to report these crimes to the world are also persecuted for their work. UNFPA has launched a campaign to amplify the voices of survivors and counter the risk of normalizing violence against women and girls, especially in crisis settings. The human rights of survivors must be at the heart of all responses to sexual violence, with sexual and reproductive health and information a non-negotiable part of that.UNFPA’s programmes in crisis contexts supported 2.3 million survivors of gender-based violence in 2021 and assisted some 1,000 health facilities in 38 countries to provide specialized care. Agency and partner staff were on the ground across the world as crises broke out and needs spiked, including for supplies of post-rape kits and emergency contraception.


But the grim reality on the ground for the most vulnerable stands in unforgiving contrast to the ambitions of organizations like UNFPA striving to assist them: Experts say the already shocking statistics on sexual violence are only scratching the surface of the as-yet unknown true figures. Calling on the international community to mobilize immediately in the light of horrific reports of sexual violence coming out of the war in Ukraine, UN Special Representative Pramila Patten said, “An active battle-ground is never conducive to accurate ‘book-keeping’ […] if we wait for hard data and statistics, it will always be too late. We do not need hard data for a scaled-up humanitarian response.”


* Names changed for privacy and protection



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