Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the population of the UK? According to the Office for National Statistics, the population was estimated to be 68,992,721 on 1 Jan 2023. A year earlier it was 68,562,151. 

The population of the UK is projected to increase to 73.3 million by mid-2037

2. Which countries have the highest birthrate? This website ( lists the twenty countries with the highest birthrates. Niger is the highest, with a rate of 6.91, and the twenty range down to Liberia with 4.84. Almost all of these countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Don’t we need more young people to care for the aged?

This is a matter of priorities. If we value the aged, we will find the means of supporting them, even if our population is declining. If we do not, they will be poorly supported even with a rising population. Also, not everyone is dependent at the end of their life, but everyone is dependent for at least 15 years at the start of it; so to increase births for this reason is to increase the number of dependents.

If we increase the population as a means of supporting the elderly, that will mean an even bigger number of elderly in 50, 60, 70 years time, which will require even more young. This is self perpetuating growth. It is true that at the end of a period of population growth, there will be a larger proportion of old people: but this situation will disappear after a while when the situation becomes stable. It is more important to preserve the health and well-being of the elderly.

4. What about immigration to the UK?

This is difficult. UK population is currently increasing: In 2015 the increase was about 168,000 due to immigration, 191,000 due to natural birth. Our natural instinct is to provide succor for those fleeing from war, famine and other social crises, but how long can that be possible?

However, migration is a world wide problem. Two recent reports are concerning: UN demographers project that by 2100 population of the Sahel will grow from 125 million to 650 million, a rise greater than the present population of the EU. At the same time, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, the Sahel’s temperature will rise by 4.5-6.5 degrees, which will make it uninhabitable. This, combined with the fact that much low lying coastal land will be underwater at the end of that period, means that the world’s migration crisis has scarcely started.

It is too narrowly focused to think about migration in purely UK terms.

5. What practical steps can be taken to reduce the birth rate?

For individuals, acknowledge the problem; limit your own progeny; make your views known in your family; support QCOP, Population Matters or other organisations listed in ‘UN and Others’, especially MSI Reproductive Choices. 

For humanity in general, acknowledge the problem; take note of the benefits accruing from fertility reduction in those countries that have taken this to heart and the disadvantages in those that have not. Provide funding for family planning through international aid. Be especially aware of the virtues of letting women make their own choices regarding family size. Ideally contraception and services around pregnancy should be freely available to all.

6. How is the QCOP planning group constituted? There is a small committee who decide policy and hold regular meetings. We have a Convenor, a Membership  Secretary and a Treasurer, and other jobs are undertaken as needed. We are now a Quaker Recognised Body, which aids our publicity

 See also Activities and Contacts.

7. What is your target audience?

Quakers! (and everybody else).

8. What do you think of Hans Rosling’s optimistic predictions?

Rosling is misleading in several respects. He puts forward Bangladesh as an example of how fertility declines, without really explaining that this is because Bangladesh has adopted policies precisely of the type advocated by population activists. This is not happening in many places.

His discussion of projections of world population shows little understanding of the basis of these projections: of high and low projections and the range between them. The range for 2100 is from 7.2 billion to 16.6 billion, with 11.2 being the median: obviously the lower the figure that eventuates, the better for everyone. Even to keep to the figures he forecasts will need a lot of effort: these figures go up whenever UN issues a revision.

He makes minimal reference to climate change, exhaustion of resources or the difficulty of feeding a bigger population.

Links: The talk often broadcast is on

A critique published in the Swedish paper Svenska Dagblat headed ‘Rosling is wrong about the Earth’s population’ is on

There is a critique of his book ‘Factfulness’ by Population Matters  on