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Population Growth Math - General

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It is necessary to understand the concept of exponential growth when dealing with the question of population.

If a small tribe of 100 people finds a rich resource base and grows at the rate of 2% annually, it adds 2 people in the first year.

  • The next year, since its population is now 102, it adds 2.04 people.
  • By the 10th year, its population is 124 and adding 2.4 people per year.
  • At year 100, there are over 600 tribe members with 12 more on the way.
  • By year 500, the society boasts 2 million citizens increasing by 40,000 annually.

Will the resource base which was so abundant with a small population support a much larger and rapidly growing population?

By year 1000, the population has grown to 40 billion. But clearly, in earth's history, populations will grow rapidly in favourable conditions but in doing so quickly outstrip and degrade their resource base. The result is a population collapse. Hence the term "population cycle".

This is why, although there are many examples of rapid population growth through history, the human population growth rate has averaged less than 1/10th of 1% over the past 100,000 years.

The example at the other end of the spectrum shows how unrealistic the concept of infinite growth is. If our tribe had grown at 6% annually, a rate which has been documented for short periods in history, it would have numbered 2 billion billion billion after 1000 years. And it would shortly be growing as a sphere of humanity expanding outward at the speed of light.

Infinite population growth, at any rate, is not possible for any tribe, city or nation as it assures resource exhaustion, collapse and disaster.


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Learn more about population:

Population Growth Math - Advanced


Population Growth Math - Reference

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Our Interactive Graphs and Charts are only available on larger screensizes as they require more room to view and manipulate the data. Visit this page on a desktop or tablet device.

Impact Index

Population Math

Net Immigration Increase Impact

Population Math
  • Net Immigration Increase 0.7%
  • Birth Rate 1.1%
  • Death Rate 0.7%
  • Immigration 0.8%
  • Emigration 0.1%
  • Natural Increase 0.4%

Population Math - The figures above are for Canada in 2015.

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