Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (January 10, 2024)

Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Copyright 2024, the author


An additional 1.8 billion people will be added to the world’s population by 2050. At the same time, average incomes are likely to rise. Data from the Groningen Growth and Development Center suggest that average real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per capita increased by a factor of fifteen between 1820 and 2018 and World Bank data indicate that real per capita GDP more than tripled over the past 62 years. It is likely that these trends will continue and there will be more people with higher average incomes in the future straining global food systems and natural resources. Slower population growth rates mean less stress on the environment, but they also mean a less dynamic economy with lots of older retired people being supported by relatively small working populations. It does not seem likely that the decline in fertility rates will be reversed.