The reason is simple: Birthrates in many places (the developed world) have fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. In much of Europe, the level is below 2.0. The United States has been holding steady at 2.13, although its population 300 million is expected to increase to 420 million, owing to low infant mortality and immigration.
Most of the population growth is expected in Africa and Asia, especially Nigeria, China and India. (India may even surpass enormous China, with a possible 1.5 billion by 2050.) The overall population slowdown is good for the world. Yet with human activity already harming the planet causing pollution, global warming, and the loss of plants and animals it's sobering to think that the population will still grow another 50 percent.
Consider that in 1798, when overpopulation was first conceptualised by political economist Thomas Malthus, in his Essay on the Principle of Population the world's people approached some 1 billion: less than a sixth of their present number.
Malthus argued that unless people regulated the size of their families, famine would destroy the human race. His prediction of widespread famine was right, in that an estimated 600 million people go to bed hungry today. But he was wrong in that he failed to foresee the advances in food production (hybrid crops, improved fertilizers, etc.) to support the additional billions.
Were Malthus writing today, he no doubt would apply his dire warning to the effects of global warming itself a result of the staggering increase in population as the greatest threat to the future of the human race. (Source: Vero Beach Press Journal, 22 October)