Demographics & Development

As one of the key drivers of global food systems, changes in the distribution of population and urbanization and economic growth have critical influences on the actors and institutions involved.

Projected increases in population and urbanization in the poorest and already most populous areas of the world (e.g. a doubling of population in Africa), increasing global and regional inequalities and an unequal distribution of the benefits of economic and structural development, and a burgeoning middle class, all have serious implications for the global demand of food.

This section presents selected data on key trends within demographics and development:

  1. Population growth
  2. Urban and rural population change
  3. Regional population change
  4. Distribution of urbanization
  5. Poverty rate change
  6. Change in financial flows
  7. Regional Growth in GDP

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Population Growth

Global population is set to reach 9 billion people, with much of the population increase taking place in urban areas

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Regional Urbanization Trends

Low and middle-income countries are projected to have the highest proportion of population living in urban areas by 2050.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Urban Growth Rates (2018-2030)

The most populous parts of the world (South Asia, China, and Africa) are projected to maintain a high rate of growth in large urban centres.

Source: https://population.un.org/wup/Maps/   Accessed 4 January 2019

Poverty Line

While overall poverty rates are declining, the greatest proportion of people currently below the poverty line are in Sub-Saharan African and South Asia.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Global Financial Flows

Remittance flows globally are around 500 million USD every year, about 4 times more than ODA, and close to FDI and private debt.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Regional per capita GDP growth

Assuming moderate global economic growth to 2050, average annual GDP per capita growth rate is 1.4%. However, the global average conceals the significant regional differences.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

GDP changes with climate change

Climate change could affect the overall economy. While some regions may to some extent benefit from climate change, such as in the northern latitudes, GDP could decline significantly in Africa and South Asia, with losses of up to 2.5% and 1.9% respectively relative to the baseline.

Source: FAO. 2018. The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2018. Agricultural trade, climate change and food security. Rome.

Global Middle Class

By 2015, the global middle class exceeded 3 billion people (half of the population residing in Asia), with projected populations nearly doubling by 2050.

Source: Kharas, H., 2017. The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class: An update. Global Economy and Development at Brookings, Working Paper 100