Business users breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday after the UK’s statistics authorities announced they have decided against scrapping the 200-year-old census. They plan instead to replace paper forms mailed to households with an online questionnaire. Read more

After decades of explosive population growth, which is now slowing, Asia will remain the geographic region with the greatest number of people by the middle of this century.

But it is Africa, the world’s poorest region, that is now forecast to grow most quickly over then next few decades, according to new forecasts by a US demographic institute. Its population is set to show the fastest rate of any world region, more than doubling by 2050, the research says. Read more

The United Nations Population Division is the go-to source for demographic data covering everything from urbanisation rates to old age life expectancy.

But now Sanjeev Sanyal, a global strategist at Deutsche Bank, has questioned the UN’s latest global population forecasts – a stunning act of lèse-majesté.

In a paper released this week, he argued that total fertility rates (TFR) among women in fast-growing economies are already falling so fast that the UN predictions – relied on by demographers, sociologists and economists all over the world – simply cannot be credible. Read more

While there is no doubt that fertility rates among female migrants are disproportionately adding to UK population growth, the pace of increase appears to be easing, according to the latest granular analysis of the 2011 Census data.

In fact, since 1970, the year in which births among non-UK born women rose at their fastest rate was 2000, which was 8.4 per cent higher than the number in 1999. Since then, the rate of increase in births among immigrant women has been falling erratically and since 2009, has been growing by under 2.0 per cent each year. Read more

The “oldest old” – generally defined as those aged 80 or 85 and over – are rising as a percentage of total population in both developed and emerging economies. So the question arises about how the healthcare costs of this increasingly frail group should be shared.

In the US, where health expenditure per capita is roughly twice that of any other developed economy, the question is particularly vexed. Recent proposals to rein in Medicare, which provides health care for those aged 65 and over, include measures that would require individuals to pay more from their own pockets than they do right now. Read more

For all the antipathy that migrants are generating in Europe, a look at the numbers suggests they may be sorely needed. In much of the European Union, migrants are filling the ranks of the working age population, particularly in countries where the number of those aged 20 to 64 has been falling as a percentage of the total population.

Moreover, the data show a persistent pattern: migrants, as a percentage of population, are highest at the youngest working ages, peaking in most countries at 30 to 35 and falling thereafter. Read more