India may surpass China as world’s most-populous nation in 2023

Crowds in Mumbai. India is expected to surpass China to become the world’s most-populous nation in 2023. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Dhiraj Singh.

India is expected to surpass China to become the world’s most-populous nation in 2023, four years ahead of an earlier estimate by the United Nations.

The U.N. expects global population to hit 8 million on Nov. 15 and grow to 8.5 billion by 2030. More than half the projected rise between now and 2050 expected to be in just eight countries: Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania, according to the World Population Prospects 2022 report.

China is expected to experience an absolute decline in its population as early as next year, the report said. A Chinese official had earlier this year estimated that the country’s population may peak as early as 2022 as its population of 1.41 billion, grew at the slowest pace since the 1950s, according to government data. An earlier report projected India surpassing China by 2027.

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Lower mortality rates and demographic changes may ensure that central and southern Asia may become the world’s most-populous region by 2037. Numbers in sub-Saharan Africa may almost double by late 2040s to cross 2 billion. Population growth rates in Europe and Northern America were almost zero in 2020 and 2021, data show.

The global population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100, lower than the UN’s 2019 estimate of 11 billion. In India, the total fertility rate may decline to 1.29 births per woman by 2100 instead of the UN’s earlier estimate of 1.69 births, according the report, which cites data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Women and men are expected to be equal in numbers by 2050 as the current global count of 49.7% women compared to 50.3% men is expected to be inverted, the report said. Sustained high fertility and rapid population growth present challenges to achieving sustainable development, it said.

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