Seven-billionth child Sadia Sultana Oishee and six-billionth Adnan Mavic, holding photos of them with officials at their birth.
By Stephanie Hegarty
Population correspondent, BBC World Service
Population growth is already going down after a significant uptick in the middle of the 20th century.
Nine billion people could arrive in 15 years, while the UN projects that 10 billion people won’t arrive until 2080.
The UN acknowledges that it is difficult to estimate the world’s population accurately and that its estimates may be off by one or two years.
But its best guess is that the eight billion lines will be crossed on November 15.
What might their stories about the world’s population rise tell us about the 5, 6, and 7 billion children that the UN has chosen to represent in prior years?
In July 1987, Matej Gaspar was born with a camera flashing in his little face and a crowd of besuited politicians encircling his weary mother.
A British UN official, Alex Marshall, was stuck at the back of a motorcade outside and felt some of the blame for the temporary commotion he had caused at this little maternity unit in the Zagreb outskirts.
He claims that the world population would surpass five billion in 1987 “simply because we looked at the estimates.” July 11 was the statistical data. They decided to christen the fifth billionth child born worldwide.
When he approached the UN’s demographers to explain the concept, they were furious.
They told us simpletons that we had no idea what we were doing and shouldn’t have been picking out one person among so many.
But they nevertheless carried it out. Putting a face to the numbers was the goal, according to him. We learned where the secretary general would be that day, and everything developed from there.
After 35 years, the world’s fifth billionth baby is attempting to forget his ceremonial birth. He appears to be happily married, residing in Zagreb, and employed as a chemical engineer, according to his Facebook page. He shuns interviews, however, so he declined to talk to the BBC.
Alex says, recalling the media frenzy around Matej’s debut, “Well, I don’t blame him.”
Since then, our world population has grown by three billion more. However, the population of the world may only increase by 2 billion during the next 35 years; after that, it is likely to plateau.
Sadia Sultana Oishee is helping her mother peel potatoes for dinner just outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is 11 years old and prefers to play football outside, but her parents own a lovely pitty-tight ship.
The family was forced to relocate after the epidemic affected their fabric and sari businesses. They can still manage to pay the school fees for their three girls because living expenses are lower in the village.
Oishee, the family’s fortunate charm, is the youngest. She was recognized as the seventh baby in the world when she was born in 2011.
What was going to happen was unknown to her mother. She hadn’t even anticipated becoming a mother on that day. She was taken to the labor ward for an emergency Caesarean section after seeing the doctor.
As Oishee arrived one minute after midnight, local officials and TV crews scrambled to get a good look at her. The family was shocked but overjoyed.
Although her father had desired a son, he is now content with his three intelligent, hard-working girls. Oishee is ambitious to become a doctor, and his oldest child is already enrolled in college. We don’t have much money, he claims, and COVID has made things more difficult. But I’ll take all the necessary steps to fulfill her wish.
17 million more individuals have been added to Bangladesh’s expanding population since Oishee was born.
This expansion is a fantastic medical success story, but Bangladesh’s rate of growth has greatly slowed down. Today’s average woman has fewer than two children, compared to more than six in 1980. And that’s because the nation has prioritized education. Women with higher education tend to have smaller families.
This information is essential for figuring out where the world’s population is most likely to go. The UN, the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and the IIASA-Wittgenstein Centre in Vienna are the three main organizations that produce projections on the world population, and their expectations for educational advancement vary.
The UN predicts a peak in a world population of 10.4 billion people in the 2080s, but the IHME and Wittgenstein predict a population of fewer than 10 billion people between 2060 and 2070.
However, these are only predictions. The world has changed significantly since Oishee was born in 2011, and demographers are frequently taken aback by these changes.
Samir KC, a demographer at the IIASA, says, “We were not expecting that the HIV mortality rate would decrease so much and that therapy would be saving so many people.” A decrease in child mortality has a long-term effect since children who survive go on to have their own children, which requires him to change his model.
Then there are the startling fertility declines.
According to Samir KC, demographers were astounded when the average number of children born to each woman in South Korea fell to 0.81. The main question for us is: “So, how low will it go?”
It is a problem that more and more nations will face.
The fertility rate in the majority of countries will be fewer than 2.1 children per woman, the level required to sustain a population, even though half of the next billion people will come from only eight countries, the majority of them in Africa.
Adnan Mavic, 23, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the population is one of the world’s most rapidly declining, considers this a lot.
He claims that “nobody will be left to pay for pensions for retired people.” He says that “Everyone who is young will be gone.”
He is seeking employment and holds a master’s degree in economics. He’ll relocate to the EU if he can’t find one. His nation, like many others in Eastern Europe, has experienced a double whammy of high emigration and low fertility.
Adnan’s mother, Fatima, who has strange memories of his birth, stays with him outside of Sarajevo.
Doctors and nurses started congregating, so Fatima recalls, “I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t determine what was going on.” Kofi Annan, who was the UN Secretary-General at the time, was there to baptize Adnan as the sixth billionth child born worldwide. Fatima recounts, smiling, “I was so exhausted, I don’t know how I felt.”
Adnan looks through photo albums with his mother. In one, two guys in suits and military khakis stand on each side of a small boy who is seated in front of a huge cake. “I recently had politicians visit me when other kids were having birthday celebrations,” Adnan claims.
But there were advantages. When he was 11 years old, he received an invitation to Real Madrid to see his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, because he was the sixth billionth person born.
He is astounded by the two-billion increase in global population over the past 23 years.
“That’s a lot,” he remarks. “I’m not sure how our lovely world will survive,”
Natasa Andjelkovic contributed more information.