At 1428.6 million, India is now the world’s most populous country
The United Nations Population Fund released Wednesday ‘The State of World Population Report, 2023’ titled ‘8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The Case for Rights and Choices’.
The latest figures suggest India is now the most populous country in the world, surpassing China’s population by 2.9 million. While India’s population is 1,428.6 million, China’s stood at 1425.7 million – representing the first time India overtook China on scales of the population since 1950 when the UN started collecting population data.
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Nevertheless, it’s unclear exactly when the crossover took place.
While China’s population reached its pinnacle in 2022 and started to drop, India’s population continues to grow, although its rate of growth has been reducing since 1980, said Anna Jefferys, media and crisis communications advisor at UNFPA.
According to the report, while 7% of India’s population is aged above 65, 68% in 15-64, 26% in 10-24, 18% in 10-19, and 25% in 0-14, the corresponding figures for China are 14%, 69%, 18%, 12%, and 17%.
Nevertheless, in terms of life expectancy, China is doing better than India. According to the report, while the life expectancy for women and men in China is 82 and 76, respectively, the corresponding figures in India are 74 and 71.
Experts believe India now has a much bigger demographic strength than China. Apart from enjoying an abundant supply of labour from this working age cohort, the increasing domestic consumption should also help the country with its economic growth, said UNFPA’s India representative Andrea Wojner.
But the key is not that India’s population has surpassed China’s. The thing to underscore here is India now has more than twice as many new babies as China with a total fertility rate about two times as much as China’s, said Huang Wenzheng from the Centre for China and Globalisation. This means India’s population will be much larger than China’s in the long run.
China’s population dropped by 850,000 people last year. Despite Beijing abolishing the one-child policy years back, the number of births did not rise as expected, owing to primary reasons such as rising costs of childcare and education.