World Population Shifts: Boom or Doom?

Publication Date: January 1999

Publisher: RAND Corporation

Author(s): Kevin F. McCarthy

Research Area: Population and demographics

Type: Brief


The structure of world population growth is changing. Currently, the world’s population of roughly 6 billion is growing by an additional billion people every 12 to 13 years. This average growth rate (1.4 percent) masks the fact that some parts of the world are growing much faster than others. Developed countries are growing at less than 0.3 percent per year, while the rest of the world is growing almost six times that fast. These demographic differences, as well as widening economic differences, between the developed and less-developed world are increasing the flow of people toward the developed world. How the developed world responds to these immigration pressures will largely determine whether such pressures become a precursor to boom or doom.This presentation examines population shifts in different parts of the world, their effects on the flow of people across borders, and potential responses by the developed world to growing immigration pressures.