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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
The United Nations estimates that the world reached seven billion people on October thirty-first. No one can be sure. The United States Census Bureau does not expect the seven billionth baby until March.
Populations are growing faster than economies in many poor countries in Africa and some in Asia. At the same time, low fertility rates in Japan and many European nations have raised concerns about labor shortages.
Population experts at the United Nations estimated that the world reached six billion in October nineteen ninety-nine. They predict nine billion by twenty-fifty and ten billion by the end of the century.
China's population of one and a third billion is currently the world's largest. India is second at 1.2 billion. But India is expected to pass China and reach one and a half billion people around twenty twenty-five. India will also have one of the world's youngest populations.
Economists say this is a chance for a so-called demographic dividend. India could gain from the skills of young people in a growing economy at a time when other countries have aging populations. But economists say current rates of economic growth, although high, may not create enough jobs.
Also, the public education system is failing to meet demand and 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." The malnourishment means many children are unable to grow to their ability in school, and later to earn money and pay into the economy. Out of every two hundred million children who start school, she says, 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 two hundred million people.
He says reaching seven billion people in the world is a good time for a call to action. He says, "Public policy needs to become really, really serious about gender equality and about access to services."