India to become most populous nation by 2023, says UN report
According to the World Population Prospects 2022 (WPP), India’s population will reach 1.428 billion on July 1, 2023, which will be marginally higher than the 1.426 billion figure for China at the time.
India will replace China as the most populous country in the world in 2023, and it will continue to have that distinction till 2100, according to the latest population projections by the United Nations.
The UN numbers also predict that the global population is expected to cross the 8 billion mark this year, even though it has already entered a phase of significant deceleration.
According to the World Population Prospects 2022 (WPP), released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) on Monday, India’s population will reach 1.428 billion on July 1, 2023, which will be marginally higher than the 1.426 billion figure for China at the time. This will catapult India to the top of the population ranking, with a peak figure likely being hit in 2064 when the country is predicted to have 1.697 billion people.
By 2100, the number will gradually come down to 1.53 billion. China’s population, which is expected to have peaked at 1.425 in 2021, will decline significantly to reach just 0.77 billion by 2100.
According to the report, India’s population stands at 1.412 billion in 2022.
“The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional” said Liu Zhenmin, UN under-secretary-general for Economic and Social Affairs, according to a statement by the UN’s department of economic and social affairs. “Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combatting hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult. Conversely, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education and gender equality, will contribute to reducing fertility levels and slowing global population growth.”
The latest WPP projections also show that global population has already entered a phase of significant deceleration. It is likely to cross the 8-billion mark on November 15, 2022 and is expected to cross the 9-billion figure in 2038.
This is the longest time it has taken to add another billion people since 1950, the earliest period for which WPP numbers are available.
To be sure, the headline deceleration effect seen in global population numbers hides the geographical and income-wise differences in demographic dynamics. For example, between now and 2050, the population share of poorer regions and country groups such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries is expected to increase by around five percentage points to the 20% mark, whereas the population share of Europe and Northern America, the richest regions in the world, is expected to come closer to the 10% mark compared to the 14% share at the moment.
The biggest reason for difference in population growth rates in different countries is differing levels of fertility, as life expectancy has increased in all parts of the world.
The geographical divergence in future population growth rates also means that the global economic inequality problem could increase significantly going forward.
To put this in context, Sub-Saharan Africa’s share in global GDP was just 2% in 2022, whereas 43% of global GDP belonged to the G-7 countries.