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A Conversation with Bill Gates: Population Growth

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Questions on Population Growth

A Conversation with Bill Gates: Population Growth

Thursday, February 2, 2012
Question excerpt from Transcript of Q & A Session with Larry Cohen

Interesting. Let's go to a couple questions that we've actually received since we started the webcast. The first is on population growth. And the question is, "One of our most pressing issues is population growth. How do you expect this to be addressed?"

Well, the population growth issue, at the global level, is not that daunting. That is, the population, percentage-wise, is growing slower today than in the past. And so it will actually peak out. The problem is that the population is growing the fastest where people are less able to deal with it. So it's in the very poorest places that you're going to have a tripling in population by 2050.

And so their ability to feed, educate, provide jobs, stability, protect the environment in those locations means, they're faced with an almost impossible problem, Northern Nigeria, Yemen, Chad.  And so what we need to do is take this aid generosity and this innovation and go into those places-- offer the women better tools, where they want to space birthing or have a smaller family size, and improve health, because it's amazingly as children survive, parents feel like they'll have enough kids to support them in their old age. And so they choose to have less children.

Niger, right now, it's still seven children per family. Whereas in the richer countries you're often at a stable point of which is 2.1 or even less. And so it's really an acute problem in a certain number of places. And we've got to make sure that we help out with the tools now so that they don't have an impossible situation later.

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