By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The world is about to get a lot more crowded.

That’s according to a report from the United Nations that estimates the world will add four billion people to the global population over the next 85 years.

So, what will the world look like in 2050? or 2100? Good Question.

Right now, 83 million people are added to world each year, but that rate is dropping.

“I worry less about the size of the population because the rate of population growth is slowing,” said Jack DeWaard, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. “So, if that continues, the population will eventually cease to grow.”

The U.N. estimates are based on certain fertility rates and could change if those levels do not occur. Under those assumptions, which vary by region, it predicts the current 2015 population of 7.3 billion will increase to 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.

DeWaard says the world’s population is continuing to grow because people are living longer and there are several countries with high rates of fertility.

According to the U.N., Africa will be the fastest growing area over the next 85 years. It will constitute half of the global population growth by 2050. Though there is expected to be a substantial reduction in fertility levels over time, the young population of the area ensures population growth. In 2015, the average woman in Africa has 4.7 children, but that is expected to fall to 2.2 by 2100.

“This is a really important piece here because the population in African countries, in many of them, are much younger,” said DeWaard. “So, about 40 percent of the population in many African countries is under age 15 and these are young women moving through their reproductive years.”

By 2100, 85 percent of the population will live in Asia or Africa, while 10 percent will live in Europe and North America. India’s population is expected to surpass China’s for the No. 1 spot in 2030.  By 2050, Nigeria is expected to overtake the U.S. for the No. 3 most populous country.

Whether the world will have enough food, water and resources to support that many people is the source of significant debate. DeWaard says some research suggests human ingenuity and invention will help us provide enough food.

“There’s a little bit of room there for think that we will elevate our game to the level that is needed,” he said. “At the same time, this raises questions about the distribution of those resources, so, what is produced and how is that distributed?”

Heather Brown