According to UN data, India will become the most populous country in the world by April 14, reaching 1.43 billion and overtaking China sooner than previously expected. The country’s population, currently over 1.4 billion, is expected to continue growing to 1.7 billion in 2064 before beginning to decline.
The UN has repeatedly raised its estimate of when India will overtake its northern neighbor in terms of population. As late as 2019, it was not expected to happen until 2027. It will be the first time in 300 years that China is not the leader of the people.
While India has been growing at a rate of 2% since the second half of the 20th century, China’s growth rate shrunk by nearly half to 1.1% between 1973 and 1983 and never recovered, largely due to government policies limiting families to one child. While Chinese families are now free to have as many children as they want, the average family size remains 1.3.
That India surpasses China as the most populous country is not because the former’s own birth rate is rising – in fact it has fallen from an average of 5.7 births per woman in 1950 to just two births per woman in 2022 – but because it is falling more slowly than China’s .
The Indian economy is also growing. According to the State Bank of India, it will have recently surpassed its former metropolis of Great Britain as the fifth largest in the world, and is expected to reach number three by 2029. It is also predicted that between now and 2050, the country will provide more than one-sixth of the increase in the world’s working-age population.
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