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October 2011, Volume 18, Number 4

Global: Population, Remittances, ILO

Population. The world's population reached seven billion in October 2011, double the world's 3.5 billion people in 1967. The population growth rate is 1.2 percent, every year adding about 83 million people or the population of Germany to developing countries. In 1967, the population growth rate was 2.1 percent, and both industrial and developing countries were growing.

The world first had a billion people in 1800, and the global population reached two billion in 1930. The global population was three billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, and six billion in 1999. The world's population is projected to be eight billion before 2025, and nine billion before 2050. Women around the world have an average of 2.5 children, an average of 1.7 in industrial countries and 4.5 in poorer countries.

Congo (DRC) and Italy highlight very different population trajectories. Both had about 61 million people in 2005. However, there are three million births a year in Congo, and about 550,000 a year in Italy, reflecting an average 6.1 children per woman in Congo and 1.4 children in Italy. By 2050, Italy's population is expected to be stable at about 61 million, while Congo's is expected to top 150 million.

In Congo and many other sub-Saharan countries, almost half of residents are under 15. In Italy and other industrial countries, at least 20 percent of residents are 65 and older.

In 2011, China had 1.3 billion residents; India 1.2 billion; the US 310 million; Indonesia 240 million; and Brazil 195 million, that is, the largest five countries had almost half of the world's people. By 2050, the most populous countries are expected to be India, 1.7 billion; China 1.3 billion; Nigeria, 435 million; US, 425 million; and Pakistan, 315 million, and these five countries are expected to have almost half of the world's people.

Remittances. Remittances to developing countries in 2010 totaled $325 billion, recovering to their 2008 levels after dropping to $308 billion in 2009 due to the global recession. The largest developing country recipients of remittances in 2010 were India, $53 billion; China, $51 billion; Mexico, $22 billion; and the Philippines, $21 billion.

Higher oil prices increased remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Russia, and the stabilization of the US economy bolstered remittances to Latin America. Remittances from North African countries such as Libya likely fell in 2011, and remittances from European countries such as Greece, Ireland and Spain are failing in 2011 because of severe recessions.

Some countries seeking funds to service debts or develop infrastructure are issuing so-called Diaspora bonds. Greece, India and Israel have issued Diaspora bonds, and countries from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe are considering such bonds. There were an estimated 162 million people from developing countries living outside their countries of citizenship in 2009 with almost $400 billion in savings. Some estimate that developing countries could persuade citizens abroad with savings to invest up to 20 percent of their savings in Diaspora bonds.

The World Bank aims to promote economic development, while the IMF's goal is to stabilize global and national monetary systems. The major policy prescription of both Washington-based institutions is to liberalize trade, deregulate markets, and privatize state-owned enterprises, the so-called Washington consensus on economic policy. The World Bank, with 10,000 employees, lends about $170 billion a year to promote development.

ILO. The International Labor Organization in June 2011 approved Convention 189, the Domestic Workers Convention. It recognizes domestic work in private homes as work and urges governments to protect domestic workers under labor laws by requiring written contracts, a day a week off, and the right to leave the house when not working.

The ILO estimated there were almost 53 million domestic workers over 15 in 2010; almost 85 percent were women. By region, there were about 20 million domestic workers each in Asia and Latin America, two million in the Middle East, and 3.5 million in industrial countries. Domestic workers were estimated to be about 12 percent of paid employees in Latin America and eight percent of paid employees in the Middle East.

The US rarely ratifies ILO Conventions that would require changes in federal laws.

ILO Convention 182 aims to eliminate the "worst forms of child labor." The ILO estimated that there were about 215 million under 15 in 2008, including 115 million in hazardous work; 59 percent of the children in hazardous were employed in agriculture. The US Department of Labor proposed in September 2011 to make child-labor regulations in US agriculture the same as those governing children working in nonfarm jobs.

G-20. The G-20 nations lost 20 million jobs during the 2008-09 recession, including eight million in the US. Meeting in France in November 2011, G-20 leaders are expected to emphasize the need to create jobs in order to put long-term jobless workers back to work and create jobs for youth entering the work force. There were 200 million unemployed workers worldwide in summer 2011.

ILO. 2011. Global and regional estimates on domestic workers.