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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business School

Ballooning world population raises public concerns

Published: 21 July 2016
Crowded street
The world population is projected to hit 10 billion around the middle of this century

Southampton Business School’s Dr Ian Dawson has conducted interesting research into public perceptions of the increasing population, which is projected to hit 10 billion around the middle of this century.


Supported by the University’s Annual Adventures in Research fund, Ian led a telephone survey in the UK designed to collect information about public perceptions and knowledge of global population growth, the willingness of individuals to adopt mitigation or precautionary behaviours, and the underlying reasons for variations in these factors.

The key findings of the study are:

• Individuals who perceived greater levels of risk from population growth were generally those who indicated a greater willingness to embrace mitigation behaviours and support preventative actions.

• Respondents who perceived medium-to-high risks were concerned about ecological damage, resource shortages and violent conflict.

• Approximately half of those who took part in the survey believed that governments had the greatest ability to influence global population levels, and most agreed national governments were not doing enough to tackle the issue.

• Older respondents with relatively low risk perceptions were the least willing to change their behaviour.

• Whilst many younger people perceived the risk of global population growth as relatively high, the study found that these younger people, who stand to inherit and occupy a more populated world, are those that tended to be most willing to adopt mitigation actions.

To find out more about Southampton’s research on population change, read our Research Highlights story.


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