Same Number of Kids, Same Number of Families

My great grandparents, Louis Blumenthal and Rosey Cohen, were little kids in Poland in the 1860s. About 150 years before Bella’s family left Russia, Louis and Rosey’s families left the area for similar reasons. The 1870 U.S. Census counts Louis as a New Yorker. At the time, there were about 1.3 billion people on earth, about a half million families.

As the population of the earth continues to increase, the proportion of kids 0-17 years decreases. In 1860, roughly half the people on earth were kids., Today, 30% of humans are kids. By 2100, just over 20% of humans will be kids.

For nearly all of the 21st century, between 2.2 and 2.5 billion kids will live on earth. Since the number is an imperfect estimate, and because some kids reside in difficult locations for counting, this book uses 2.4 billion as our working number. Throughout the 21st century, the number of kids will remain fairly constant.

In the U.S., parents produced about a million babies in 1860, and about 3.8 million in 2018. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the largest source of population growth was new babies. In the 21st century, earth’s population is growing because so many people are living so much longer.

Louis and Rosey produced 9 babies, but only 4 survived (including my diabetic grandfather Harry). At the time, half the world’s kids died before their 5th birthday. By 1950, around the time I was born, mortality rates were down to about 1 in 25. Today, the rate is much lower: 1 in 1,000.

Longevity increases when people become healthier and wealthier—the 3 get better together. When Rosey died in 1934, global life expectancy for a female was 40 years, but she lived in New York City, and was, by then, middle class, so she beat the average and lasted until age 71. Louis did even better: he lived until 1947—he died at age 87, far longer than the 64 year global average for men.

Most adults no longer die young. “Globally, the number of people aged 80 or over is projected to triple by 2050 from 137 million in 2017 to 425 million in 2050.” The worldwide longevity average will top 80 years.

Energetic 80 year olds (born: 1970) will be very much a part of life in 2050—bringing 20th century memories, traditions and practices into a 21st century world of rapid change. Older adults will also be healthier adults, so they will participate in social, economic, community, and family life much longer, and more completely, than their parents and grandparents.

The UN forecasts 8 billion people on earth by 2024, 9 billion by 2038, 10 billion by 2054, and 11 billion by 2088.


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