World population heading rapidly toward 7 billion

The global population will reach 7 billion by about 2012 and continue to rise for many decades, according to a new report from the Population Reference Bureau, a private research organization. “Almost 99 percent of population growth today and for the foreseeable future will be in … developing countries,” said Carl Haub, a demographer with the bureau. In contrast, birthrates are declining in many developed countries, a trend that could ultimately lead to wealthy nations having less money to spend on foreign aid for poorer nations, according to Haub. In the U.S., though, fertility rates are holding steady and population is expected to rise from 296 million today to 420 million by 2050, meaning the nation would hold onto its status as the world’s third most-populous country. India is expected to overtake China and assume the No. 1 slot by the middle of the century.