Life expectancy is up and poverty is down worldwide, even with our rapidly expanding global population. Are our fears of catastrophe overblown?
Last year, the world population reached 7 billion. It added the last billion in merely 12 years, similar to the time it took to add the fifth and sixth billion. Despite this rapid growth, the doomsday predictions of previous decades about the potentially disastrous consequences of rapid population growth have not materialized. Indeed, during the recent decades of rapid global population growth, various summary measures of individual well-being have in fact increased: For example, from 1960 to 2010, global life expectancy increased from 51.2 to 67.9 years, infant and maternal death rates declined substantially, education—and, importantly, also levels of female schooling—increased, global per capita food production and consumption rose, and the proportion of the global population living in poverty declined significantly. read more.