By Eliana Dockterman
September 18, 2014

The world population may balloon to anywhere between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion by 2100, according to a new report that used statistics from the U.N. The new estimates far outstrip previous calculations of 7.2 billion.

The root of the booming population is high birth rates in Africa, according to the report, published in the journal Science. The number of people in Africa is expected to rise from 1 billion to 4 billion in the next 86 years. Researchers found that there is a 70% probability that the world’s population will not stabilize in this century.

“Earlier projections were strictly based on scenarios, so there was no uncertainty,” U.N. demographer Patrick Gerland told the Associated Press. “This work provides a more statistically driven assessment that allows us to quantify the predictions, and offer a confidence interval that could be useful in planning.”

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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