India to be most populous nation by 2022, says UN report

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 31, 2015 01:33 IST
Commuters walk inside a metro station in New Delhi. India's population is set to pass China's in size around 2022, according to the United Nations report released Wednesday, July 29. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

India is on course to be the world’s most populous nation by 2022, surpassing China sooner than previously estimated, according to the UN’s 2015 Revised World Population Prospect report.

The estimates forecast a remarkable quickening of India’s population growth between 2015 and 2050, while China’s is projected to remain flat and then start declining.

“Within seven years, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China,” said the new report, which updates the UN’s previous demographic data unveiled two years ago. In its earlier version, the report said India would overtake China in population size only by 2028.

Half of the world’s population growth during the period will be concentrated in just nine countries, including India, the report said.

Compared to a stable Chinese population until 2030, India’s would keep growing for several decades and at a faster clip. In 2030, India would be home to 1.5 billion and a staggering 1.7 billion in 2050. The country’s population will rise despite a fall in its fertility rates, mainly because of its mostly poor but younger population in states such as Bihar and UP.

The population pressures mean the country has to prepare to deal with the stress and also reap what economists call India’s current “demographic dividend”, or a positive population scenario of more younger, employable people than old.

“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, director of the UN’s population division, releasing the report on Wednesday.

Overall, the world’s population is projected to be 8.5 billion by 2030.

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