Is rapid world population growth actually coming to an end? As population growth and its consequences have become front-page issues, projections of slowing growth from such institutions as the United Nations and the World Bank have been called into question.
Beyond Six Billion asks what such projections really say, why they say it, whether they can be trusted, and whether they can be improved. The book includes analysis of how well past U.N. and World Bank projections have panned out, what errors have occurred, and why they have happened.
Focusing on fertility as one key to accurate projections, the committee examines the transition from high, constant fertility to low fertility levels and discusses whether developing countries will eventually attain the very low levels of births now observed in the industrialized world. Other keys to accurate projections, predictions of lengthening life span and of the impact of international migration on specific countries, are also explored in detail.
How good are our methods of population forecasting? How can we cope with the inevitable uncertainty? What population trends can we anticipate? Beyond Six Billion illuminates not only the forces that shape population growth but also the accuracy of the methods we use to quantify these forces and the uncertainty surrounding projections.
The Committee on Population was established by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1983 to bring the knowledge and methods of the population sciences to bear on major issues of science and public policy. The committee's work includes both basic studies of fertility, health and mortality, and migration; and applied studies aimed at improving programs for the public health and welfare in the United States and in developing countries. The committee also fosters communication among researchers in different disciplines and countries and policy makers in government, international agencies, and private organizations. The work of the committee is made possible by funding from several government agencies and private foundations.
National Research Council. Beyond Six Billion: Forecasting the World's Population. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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