Population Prediction

Every picture tells a story and this one is surprising. War, famine, HIV, available health care, the break up of the Soviet Union, China's one child policy, the decline in birth rates across Europe and North America to below replacement levels, migration, type of government, energy consumption, gross domestic product, population in 1950, which factors most influcence a nation's population today and by how much?

Energy use and GDP are good indicators of industrialization; life expectancy and infant mortality are good indicators of quality of life, availability of healthcare, food, and shelter. Population growth would be expected correlate with life expectancy, infant mortality, availability of healthcare, food, shelter, energy, employment, migration, war, and disease as well as previous population. So how are these related?

Nationa populations 1950 vs. 2005

There's something happening here and what it is ain't exactly clear.
- Steven Stills

Previous population accounts for 98% of the variance in a nation's population change between 1950 and 2005. Life expectancy - mostly do to infant mortality accounts for another 1%. All other factors combined make up the remaining 1% and none of them is statistically significant.

But we know there is more going on than that. Developed nations with good health care, plentiful food, quality shelter, high paying jobs, and an educated population have very low birth rates. Their population increases by immigration as well as reproduction. In poor nations people reproduce faster and have more offspring, but fewer of them survive. A lack of wealth drives people from poor nations to wealthier ones.

But does that explain why the population of every nation on earth has been growing at nearly the exact same rate for the past 55 years regardless of vastly differing social, political and economic circumstances? Stay tuned!

You may be wondering about the nations in the center of the graph who's population exceeds the 95% prediction interval. Those are the oil producing nations of the Middle East. Each has had a higher than usual immigration rate due to the wealth of the local people and need for workers in the petroleum industry.

The three countries which fall below the 95% prediction interval are small island nations with limited resources. They range in populationfor 132 to 4320.

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