- UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- As the 21st century approaches, the world is aging rapidly,
couples are having fewer children, and AIDS is taking such a "devastating
toll" in Africa that life expectancy is declining, according to U.N.
population estimates released Wednesday.
- Even though fertility is continuing to
decline in much of the world, global population is expected to climb to
6 billion in 1999 -- and the AIDS epidemic will not reverse Africa's population
growth, the U.N. Population Division said.
- Last year, AIDS killed 2.3 million adults
and children, and 30 million people are currently infected by the HIV virus.
According to the U.N. figures, 91 percent of AIDS deaths occurred in 34
countries, 29 in sub-Sahara Africa.
- But in the 29 African countries hardest-hit
by AIDS, the population will remain the same or continue climbing because
fertility in these countries is high, according to the U.N. estimates.
- The continuing spread of AIDS is nonetheless
having serious population repercussions: children born today in those 29
African countries will have an average life expectancy of 47 years rather
than 54 years if there had not been an AIDS epidemic, the U.N. said.
- And the demographic impact "is expected
to intensify in the future," especially in the nine African countries
where more than 10 percent of the adult population has the HIV virus --
Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia
and Zimbabwe, it said.
- "By 2010-2015, the average life
expectancy at birth in these countries could be only 47 years. In the absence
of AIDS, it would have been expected to reach 63 years. This represents
16 years of life expectancy lost to AIDS," the U.N. said.
- The population estimates and projections
are prepared every two years by the Population Division of the United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The figures are used throughout
the United Nations system.
- According to the new estimates, world
population stood at 5.9 billion in mid-1998, and was growing by 1.33 percent
per year, an average of 78 million people. Countries adding the most population
were India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, the United States, Brazil,
Bangladesh, Mexico and the Philippines.
- The 1995-2000 population growth rate
is significantly less that the peak growth rate of 2.04 percent in 1965-70,
and less than the rate of 1.46 percent in 1990-95, the U.N. said.
- Depending on future fertility trends,
the world's population in 2050 is projected to be in the range of 7.3 billion
to 10.7 billion, it said.
- Africa has the highest population growth
rate of all major regions of the world -- 2.36 percent. And during the
last two years, Africa's population, now 749 million, surpassed Europe's,
which is currently 729 million, the U.N. said.
- In contrast, Europe has the lowest growth
rate, just 0.03 percent, and in Eastern Europe the rate is minus 0.2 percent,
indicating a population decline, it said.
- The developed world has led the process
of population aging since the beginning of the 20th century -- and Europe
is most affected. The proportion of older people in Europe will increase
from 20 percent in 1998 to 35 percent in 2050, the U.N. said.
- For the first time, U.N. experts estimated
the number of people in their 80s, 90s and over 100 -- and found 66 million
people over 80 including 6.4 million over 90 and 135,000 centinarians.
- "With the continuation of fertility
decline and increase in life expectancy, the population of the world will
age much faster in the next half-century than previously," the U.N.