The Nation: Four Billion, and Counting

With the help of electronic calculators and data from all parts of the globe, the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, D.C., reached a disturbing conclusion: last Sunday, probably sometime in the evening, the world's population reached 4 billion. "If you want to go a step further," said the bureau's chief demographer, Leon Bouvier, "the odds are that the 4 billionth person is a boy born in China."

The bureau reached its conclusions by taking world population totals for July 1, 1975, projecting ahead to July 1, 1976 at the established growth rate of 1.8%, and running backwards, fixing March 28 as...

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