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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Dec 13;113(50):14294-14299. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals leads to lower world population growth.

Author information

1
Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University, Baoshan, 200444 Shanghai, China.
2
Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna University of Economics and Business), 2361 Laxenburg, Austria.
3
Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University, Baoshan, 200444 Shanghai, China; kcsamir@gmail.com lutz@iiasa.ac.at.
4
Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna University of Economics and Business), 2361 Laxenburg, Austria kcsamir@gmail.com lutz@iiasa.ac.at.

Abstract

Here we show the extent to which the expected world population growth could be lowered by successfully implementing the recently agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include specific quantitative targets on mortality, reproductive health, and education for all girls by 2030, measures that will directly and indirectly affect future demographic trends. Based on a multidimensional model of population dynamics that stratifies national populations by age, sex, and level of education with educational fertility and mortality differentials, we translate these goals into SDG population scenarios, resulting in population sizes between 8.2 and 8.7 billion in 2100. Because these results lie outside the 95% prediction range given by the 2015 United Nations probabilistic population projections, we complement the study with sensitivity analyses of these projections that suggest that those prediction intervals are too narrow because of uncertainty in baseline data, conservative assumptions on correlations, and the possibility of new policies influencing these trends. Although the analysis presented here rests on several assumptions about the implementation of the SDGs and the persistence of educational, fertility, and mortality differentials, it quantitatively illustrates the view that demography is not destiny and that policies can make a decisive difference. In particular, advances in female education and reproductive health can contribute greatly to reducing world population growth.

KEYWORDS:

Sustainable Development Goals; female education; reproductive health; scenarios; world population

PMID:
27911797
PMCID:
PMC5167193
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1611386113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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