SUMMARY AND KEY FINDINGS
People and therefore populations are at the centre of sustainable development and will be influential in the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2017 Revision of the World Population Prospects is the twenty-fifth round of official United Nations population estimates and projections, which have been prepared since 1951 by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The 2017 Revision builds on previous revisions by incorporating additional results from the 2010 and 2020 rounds of national population censuses as well as findings from recent specialized sample surveys from around the world. The 2017 Revision provides a comprehensive set of demographic data and indicators to assess population trends at the global, regional and national levels and to calculate many other key indicators commonly used by the United Nations system.
Snapshot of global population in 2017
According to the results of the 2017 Revision, the world’s population numbered nearly 7.6 billion as of mid-2017 (table 1), implying that the world has added approximately one billion inhabitants over the last twelve years. Sixty per cent of the world’s people live in Asia (4.5 billion), 17 per cent in Africa (1.3 billion), 10 per cent in Europe (742 million), 9 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean (646 million), and the remaining 6 per cent in Northern America (361 million) and Oceania (41 million).
China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two most populous countries of the world, comprising 19 and 18 per cent of the global total, respectively.
At the global level, the numbers of men and women are roughly equal, with the male population being slightly larger than the female population. Currently, in 2017, there are 102 men for every 100 women. Thus, in a group of 1,000 people selected at random from the world’s population, 504 would be male and 496 would be female on average (figure 1). Children under 15 years of age represent roughly one quarter of the world’s inhabitants (26 per cent), while older persons aged 60 or over account for just over one eighth (13 per cent). More than half (61 per cent) are adults between 15 and 59 years of age. If the total number of people were split in half according to the age distribution of the world’s population (at the median age), one group would bring together all persons younger than 30 years of age, while the other would include everyone aged 30 years or older.