India’s population grew twice as fast as China’s: UN report
India’s population grew at 1.2% a year between 2010 and 2019, marginally higher than the global average of 1.1% a year in this period, but more than double China’s 0.5% a year, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2018 report released on Wednesday.
The world’s population rose to 7.715 billion in 2019, up from 7.633 billion the year before, with the average life expectancy remaining 72 years.
The least developed countries recorded the highest population growth, with countries in Africa registering an average of 2.7% a year, said the report, which marks 50 years of the UNFPA being established to support countries to bring down fertility levels.Much of the overall increase in global population till 2050 is projected to occur in high fertility countries, mostly in Africa, or in countries with large populations, such as India and Nigeria.
Around half India’s population in 24 states have achieved so-called replacement fertility rates of 2.1 children per women, which is the desired family size when the population stops growing, but the country’s large youth bulge will continue to fuel population growth even as the size of the ageing population increases.
“India must prepare for its growing ageing population by understanding the dynamics and riding its demographic dividend by making sure young people are well educated, healthy and contribute to society to help grow the economy and look after elderly going forward,” said Klaus Beck, Officer-in-Charge, UNFPA India.
“Employment for young people is critical, as is developing public policies for the elderly on pension, services and support, and customised safety nets. You have to start thinking now.
India still has time to prepare and learn from what other countries have done well and how it can be customised for India,” he added.
The poorest 20% households have the largest unmet need for contraception and reproductive health services, with adolescents, disabled, unmarried young people, and the socially marginalised being the most deprived, said the report.
The report also marks 25 years of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, where 179 governments agreed on a rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health to address population growth. Maternal deaths have declined by at least 40% since 1994.
“India has made some groundbreaking shifts at the policy level and moved from a target approach to family planning services and methods to a rights-based approach,
but it has still not fully moved away from sterilisation incentives and disincentives, which should never have been used,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director, Population Foundation of India.
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