WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- More than 7 billion people may be alive on Earth in 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau predicted Thursday.
While population growth is expected to slow in the first half of the 21st century compared to the previous 50 years, total world population will be 9.5 billion in 2050, demographers said.
Between 1950 and 1999, population more than doubled from 2.5 billion to 6 billion and is expected to increase by 50 percent between 1999 and 2050 with the rate of growth slowing to 0.5 percent by mid-century.
The global population is expected to be older as well. About 1.5 percent of those alive now are 80 or older with more than half living in developed countries. In 2050, 5 percent are expected to be at least 80 and 75 percent to live in less-developed countries.
Demographers believe that the number of people on Earth broke 1 billion around 1800 and hit 2 billion shortly before 1930. World population exploded in the second half of the 20th century as medical advances contributed to longer lives.