A new analysis by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) suggests that India will soon become the world’s most populous country. With a population of 1.425 billion as of this month, India is on track to overtake China in population. Last week, the UN Population Fund predicted that India’s population would catch up to China’s in the mid-2020s, but it appears that the shift will happen sooner than expected.
China’s population peaked at around 1.426 billion in 2019 before declining, though there are no official statistics on its current population. According to the DESA, the difference in birth rates between China and India is the main factor contributing to the population shift. China’s average birth rate fell from 1.7 in 2017 to 1.2 in 2022, while India has a higher birth rate and a younger population.
John Wilmoth, Director of the UN’s Population Division, believes that China’s family planning policy played a significant role in the population decline, despite the government’s efforts to incentivize families to have more children. In 2016, the government introduced a “two-child policy,” which was expanded to a “three-child policy” last year, along with various incentives such as financial support for childcare and housing. However, experts suggest that these measures have not had the desired effect.
India, on the other hand, has a larger and younger population, with a thicker youth bulge and a higher birth rate than China. However, AP News reports that India’s birth rate has declined from 5 in the 1960s to around 2 in recent years, and it is predicted that the population growth rate will level off around 2064. The country’s massive population raises concerns about a variety of issues, including climate change, urban-rural imbalance, and religious conflict.