Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)
The United Nations estimates that there are now seven billion people on Earth.
Populations are growing faster than economies in many poor countries in Africa and Asia. At the same time, low birth rates in Japan and many European nations have raised concerns. There may not be enough people to fill jobs in the future.
Population experts at the United Nations estimate that the world’s population reached six billion in October 1999. They predict it will reach nine billion by 2050, and ten billion by the end of the century.
China has a population of 1.3 billion, which is currently the world's largest. India is second at 1.2 billion. But India is expected to pass China and reach 1.5 billion people around 2025. India will also have one of the world's youngest populations.
In India, young people will gain many skills in their country’s growing economy. At the same time, other countries will have aging populations. But economists say that current growth rates, although high, may not create enough jobs.
Also, the public education system is failing. There are too many students in many places. 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."
SARAH CROWE: "That child is unable to really grow to its ability and will remain in a state of stunting and not be able to learn when it goes to school -- when he or she goes to school, and indeed later earn and really pay back and pay into the economy and help the country and the region move forward. We have, you know, out of every two hundred million children who start school, 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 200 million people.
He says reaching seven billion people in the world is a good time for a call to action.
Click on this exercise to improve your English vocabulary! Open
Improve your English comprehension skills with this activity! Open
Improve your English by learning the facts! Open
Click here to improve your English language listening skills! Open
Expand your English language skills with this activity! Open