World population nears 6 billion.
According to the 1998 revised estimates and projections of the United Nations, the world population currently stands at 5.9 billion persons and is growing at 1.33 per cent per year, an annual net addition of about 78 million people. World population in the mid-twenty-first century is expected to be in the range of 7.3 to 10.7 billion, with a figure of 8.9 billion by the year 2050 considered to be most likely. Global population growth is slowing, thanks to successful family planning programmes. But because of past high fertility, the world population will continue to grow by over 80 million a year for at least the next decade. In mid-1999, the total will pass 6 billion-twice what it was in 1960. More young people than ever are entering their childbearing years. At the same time, the number and proportion of people over 65 are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The rapid growth of these young and old new generations is challenging societies' ability to provide education and health care for the young, and social, medical and financial support for the elderly. (excerpt)