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Population Mystery – 07/12/2022 – Opinion

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As any consumer of crime thrillers knows, outcomes expected from the start are also capable of causing surprise: it’s not a question of knowing if the detective will solve the mystery, but of seeing how he will do it.

The UN demographic report released this Monday (11) fulfilled its role in revealing how Covid has affected population dynamics. No one escaped that there would be some impact, but everyone expected to know its size.

For the average global life expectancy fell from 72.8 years in 2019 to 71 in 2021, or 1.8 years less in the period. This is the first slowdown in five decades.

If the general decline attests to the severity of the pandemic, the average hides differences between countries. Brazil, for example, experienced a greater reduction, from 75.3 years to 72.8 (a drop of 2.5 years) — a result that has the negligence of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) as its decisive factor.

Fortunately, according to the UN, longevity trends should recover in all countries by 2025, depending, among other things, on the vaccination coverage rate — an area in which, despite Bolsonaro, Brazil is doing well in comparative terms. .

This does not mean, however, that the panorama envisioned by the UN is full of good tidings; projections for the future, the main focus of the study, walk a tightrope where demographic forecasts have been balanced for more than 200 years.

Optimistic eyes will highlight the fact that the new peak calculated for the world population is 10.4 billion people, less than the almost 11 billion estimated before. Not only the pandemic but also the War in Ukraine contribute to this.

Fewer inhabitants on a planet in environmental crisis may be good news, but growth will remain high in poor countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Pakistan, the Philippines and India – which, by the way, should surpass the China as the most populous in the world as early as 2023.

Everyone will have the opportunity to take advantage of the addition of young people of working age, but if they do not adopt adequate public policies, they will only end up with the negative consequences of population change.

That’s what happened with Brazil. About to be overtaken by Nigeria in the ranking of the largest populations, the country has not yet been able to prepare itself for its aging age profile and will tend to suffer from challenges for the health and welfare systems.

In this case, there is no mystery: the responsibility belongs to all those in government who, with an eye only on the short term, neglected projections for the future.

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