Although fertility rates continue to fall worldwide, the annual number of births is still rising and projected to peak at 137 million in 2013. World population as of July 1, 2008, was estimated to be 6.7 billion.
These and other demographic trends throughout the world are available from the Census Bureau’s online International Data Base.
The worldwide rise in births is related not just to fertility rates but also to the number of women in their peak childbearing ages (20-39). In developing countries, women on average currently have an estimated 2.8 births over their lifetimes <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpopinfo.html>. Although this fertility rate is below the 3.0 figure in 2001, the number of women at peak childbearing ages in developing countries has increased by more than 73 million over the last seven years as a result of higher fertility in the past. Worldwide, births have increased because this momentum is large enough in developing countries to offset the decline in fertility rates.
In contrast, women in more developed countries average 1.6 births each, well below the number required to replace these children’s parents. Birth numbers in the more developed world have been relatively constant in recent years because both fertility rates and the number of women at peak childbearing ages have remained fairly stable.
Currently, nearly half of the world’s countries or areas have fertility levels that are at or below replacement level. Most of these countries are in Europe but a number are located in Asia, including Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Thirty-two countries in the world — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa — have an estimated lifetime fertility of more than five children per woman.
These and other demographic dynamics can be explored through the Census Bureau’s International Data Base, which provides annual estimates of population, fertility, mortality, net migration and annual growth through 2050 in countries and regions of the world. The latest update of this database includes revisions of population estimates and projections for 29 countries and areas. The International Data Base and additional information can be found at <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/>. Tables showing world demographic trends are available at <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpopinfo.html>.