The planet’s population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and its World Population Clock (http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html) . Population levels are growing, but at a slower rate than in the past few decades. The current growth of world population is estimated at 1.1 percent a year, and has slowed from its peak of 2.1 percent annual growth between 1965 and 1970.
A large portion of the world’s population lives in nations that are at sub-replacement fertility, meaning the average woman has fewer than two children in her lifetime. Countries in this camp include former members of the Soviet Union, Japan and most of Europe. Demographers attribute the slowing rate of global population growth in part to more widespread availability of birth control and to people in developed nations choosing to have fewer children. But low-birthrate countries are counterbalanced by nations like Yemen, where the average woman has seven children in her lifetime.The highest population growth rates emanate disproportionately from the poorest regions of Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.