India to overtake China as world’s most populous country in 2023: United Nations


Global population is projected to reach 8 billion on November 15 this year, with India projected to surpass China as the most populous country in 2023, the United Nations said Monday on World Population Day.

At present, India’s estimated population is 1.38 billion while China’s is 1.4 billion.

“It is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The numbers are stark despite population growth rate being slowest since 1950, having fallen under 1 per cent in 2020, according to the World Population Prospects 2022.

The UN report projects the world’s population to touch 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050 and peak at around 10.4 billion during the 2080s, and countries in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase through 2050.

“More than half of the projected increase up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania,” it added.

“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,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Fertility has fallen markedly in recent decades for many countries, the report said, noting that two-thirds of the global population today lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run for a population with low mortality, Xinhua news agency reported.

Due to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of immigration, the population of 61 countries or areas are projected to decrease by 1 per cent or more between 2022 and 2050, it said.

The share of global population aged 65 and above is projected to rise from 10 per cent in 2022 to 16 per cent in 2050, it said.

“Countries with aging populations should take steps to adapt public programs to the growing proportions of older persons, including by improving the sustainability of social security and pension system and by establishing universal health care and long-term care systems,” the report noted.

The average global longevity is projected to be around 77.2 years in 2050 with further reductions in mortality, as 2019 saw a global life expectancy at birth of 72.8 years, an improvement of nearly nine years since 1990.

However, in 2021, global life expectancy at birth fell to 71 years, mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and life expectancy in the least developed countries lagged seven years behind the global average.