Total and urban population

10 economies are home to 58 per cent of the world’s population
Four fifths of the global population live in developing economies
Africa’s population increased by 2.5 per cent in 2016
In developing economies of America 80 per cent live in urban centres
World population, 2016

Note: The area of economies is proportional to the population.

Find the data on UNCTADstat

Population growth rate decreasing over time

The world population growth rate has been declining since the end of the 1960s. In 1969, the world population increased by 2.1 per cent compared to the year before. Until 1979, the annual growth rate then fell to 1.8 per cent and remained at that level for the next nine years. After a further strong fall during the early 1990s, the rate reached 1.3 per cent at the turn of the millennium. Today it amounts to 1.1 per cent. It is projected to decrease further, down to 0.5 per cent by 2050.

Unequal distribution across countries

In 2016, the world population was 7.5 billion, with 58 per cent of people inhabiting only 10 economies. Three of the four most populated economies in the world were located in Asia: China, India and Indonesia. Jointly, they accounted for 40 per cent of the world total.

Figure 1Annual growth rate of world population (Percentage)

Note: Annual exponential rate of growth of the population (see Calculation methods page).

Developing economies drive population growth

Of the world population in 2016 (7.5 billion), 6.1 billion people, i.e. four fifths, lived in developing economies. In the middle of the last century, developing economies had accounted for only two thirds of the world population. Over the last six decades, this share increased as a consequence of relatively high population growth. The population of Africa has been expanding particularly strongly (in 2016, by 2.5 per cent), and it is forecast to do so also for the next three decades. By 2050, the global population is projected to reach almost 10 billion.

Figure 2World population by group of economies (Billions)

Urbanization continues

In 2016, the developing economies of America had the highest rate of urbanization (80%) of any developing region. In Africa, the urban population only accounted for 41 per cent of the population.

In the coming decades, urbanization is expected to increase considerably. Today, 54 per cent of the world population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this share is forecast to increase to 66 per cent. That equates to an additional 2.4 billion people living in urban centres – an increase of 193 000 persons per day for the next 33 years.

Figure 3Urban population by group of economies, 2016 (Percentage of total population)

Summary tables

Table 1

Total population by group of economies

Group of economies

Population

Annual growth rate

(Millions)

(Percentage)

2011

2016

2050

2011-2016

2016

2050

World

7 043

7 467

9 772

1.2

1.1

0.8

Developing economies

5 709

6 109

8 342

1.4

1.3

0.9

Developing economies: Africa

1 076

1 224

2 526

2.6

2.5

2.1

Developing economies: America

600

634

775

1.1

1.1

0.6

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

4 033

4 251

5 041

1.1

1.0

0.5

Transition economies

301

306

308

0.3

0.3

0.0

Developed economies

1 033

1 052

1 122

0.4

0.4

0.2

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

4 341

4 705

6 978

1.6

1.6

1.2

Developing economies excluding LDCs

4 838

5 128

6 422

1.2

1.1

0.7

LDCs

870

981

1 920

2.4

2.4

2.0

LLDCs

425

492

939

2.9

2.4

1.9

SIDS (UNCTAD)

12

13

16

1.0

1.0

0.7

HIPCs (IMF)

596

686

1 502

2.8

2.8

2.3

BRICS

3 009

3 135

3 462

0.8

0.8

0.3

G20

4 337

4 519

5 057

0.8

0.8

0.3

Table 2

Urban population by group of economies

Group of economies

Urban population

Share in total population

(Millions)

(Percentage)

2011

2016

2050

2011

2016

2050

World

3 665

4 060

6 465

52.0

54.4

66.2

Developing economies

2 657

3 022

5 275

46.5

49.5

63.2

Developing economies: Africa

417

501

1 418

38.7

40.9

56.1

Developing economies: America

472

507

669

78.6

80.0

86.4

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

1 769

2 013

3 187

43.9

47.4

63.2

Transition economies

190

194

219

63.2

63.4

71.1

Developed economies

817

844

972

79.1

80.3

86.6

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1 966

2 225

4 240

45.3

47.3

60.8

Developing economies excluding LDCs

2 400

2 707

4 316

49.6

52.8

67.2

LDCs

257

315

959

29.5

32.1

50.0

LLDCs

120

144

411

28.1

29.3

43.7

SIDS (UNCTAD)

5

5

8

39.9

40.9

50.4

HIPCs (IMF)

195

241

776

32.8

35.1

51.6

BRICS

1 388

1 557

2 244

46.1

49.7

64.8

G20

2 386

2 618

3 589

55.0

57.9

71.0

Table 3

Most populated economies by group

Developing economies: Africa

Economy

Total

Urban

Population

Annual growth rate

Share in total
population

Annual growth rate

(Millions)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

2016

2011-2016

2016 -2050

2016

2011-2016

2016-2050

Nigeria

186

2.7

2.3

48.6

4.5

3.3

Ethiopia

102

2.6

1.8

19.9

4.9

3.7

Egypt

96

2.2

1.4

43.2

2.3

2.2

Dem. Rep. of the Congo

79

3.3

2.7

43.0

4.5

3.7

South Africa

56

1.4

0.8

65.3

2.2

1.3

Developing Africa

1 224

2.6

2.1

40.9

3.7

3.1

Developing economies: America

Economy

Total

Urban

Population

Annual growth rate

Share in total
population

Annual growth rate

(Millions)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

2016

2011-2016

2016-2050

2016

2011-2016

2016-2050

Brazil

208

0.9

0.3

85.9

1.2

0.5

Mexico

128

1.4

0.7

79.5

1.7

1.0

Colombia

49

0.9

0.3

76.7

1.3

0.6

Argentina

44

1.0

0.7

91.9

1.2

0.8

Peru

32

1.3

0.8

78.9

1.7

1.1

Developing America

634

1.1

0.6

80.0

1.5

0.8

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Economy

Total

Urban

Population

Annual growth rate

Share in total
population

Annual growth rate

(Millions)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

2016

2011-2016

2016-2050

2016

2011-2016

2016-2050

China

1 404

0.5

-0.1

56.8

2.8

0.8

India

1 324

1.2

0.7

33.1

2.4

1.9

Indonesia

261

1.2

0.6

54.5

2.6

1.4

Pakistan

193

2.1

1.4

39.2

3.2

2.5

Bangladesh

163

1.1

0.6

35.0

3.4

2.0

Developing Asia and Oceania

4 251

1.1

0.5

47.4

2.6

1.4