The United Nations estimates that the world reached seven billion people on October thirty-first. No one can be sure. The United States Census Bureau does not expect the seven billionth baby until March. Populations are growing faster than economies in many poor countries in Africa and some in Asia. At the same time, low fertility rates in Japan and many European nations have raised concerns about labor shortages. Population experts at the United Nations estimated that the world reached six billion in October nineteen ninety-nine.
They predict nine billion by twenty-function and ten billion by the end of the century.China’s population of one and a third billion is currently the world’s largest. India is second at 1.2 billion. But India is expected to pass China and reach one and a half billion people around twenty twenty-five. India will also have one of the world’s youngest populations. Economists say this is a chance for a so-called demographic dividend. India could gain from the skills of young people in a growing economy at a time when other countries have aging populations. But economists say current rates of economic growth, although high, may not create enough jobs. Also, the public education system is failing to meet demand and schooling is often of poor quality.
Another concern is health care. Nearly half of India’s children under the age of five are malnourished. Sarah Crowe at the United Nations Children’s Fund in New Delhi says these two problems “could keep India back.” The malnourishment means many children are unable to grow to their ability in school, and later to earn money and pay into the economy. Out of every two hundred million children who start school, she says, only ten percent complete grade twelve. Michal Rutkowski is the director of human development in South Asia at the World Bank. He says the seven billionth person was likely to be a girl born in rural Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s poorest and most crowded states, with nearly two hundred million people. He says reaching seven billion people in the world is a good time for a call to action. He says, “Public policy needs to become really, really serious about gender equality and about access to services.” For VOA Special English, I’m Carolyn Presutti.Check out voaspecialenglish.com, VOA’s daily source of news and information for people learning English. You can also find lessons on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook.
Words in This Story
grow – adj. increasing in size or quantity
population – n. all the people living in a particular country, area, or place
fertility – n. (of animals and plants) the quality of being able to produce young or fruit
shortage – n. a situation in which there is not enough of something
demographic – adj. relating to demography (= the study of populations and the different groups that make them up)
malnourished – adj. weak and in bad health because of having too little food or too little of the types of food necessary for good health
rural – adj. in, of, or like the countryside
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