World population estimated to reach 8 billion in November

India to surpass China as the most populous nation by next year, UN says

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The world’s population will reach eight billion on November 15 and India will replace China as the most populous nation next year, the UN said on Monday.

On World Population Day, the UN released its 27th edition of the World Population Prospects.

India, with its current population of 1.3 billion, will surpass China, the world’s most populous nation with 1.44 billion people, by 2023.

China accounts for 19 per cent of the world's total population, with India making up 18 per cent.

The report also forecast the global population to surge to about 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100.

“The global population is expected to reach its peak size in the 2080s with around 10.4 billion people,” said John Wilmoth, the UN's director of the population division.

“Today China is the world's most populous country (1.426 billion) but its growth has been slowing down,” he said.

The report, however, found that for the first time since 1950, the rate of growth fell by 1 per cent a year.

More than half of the increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries — the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania, the report said.

“Disparate growth rates among the world’s largest countries will reorder their ranking by size," the report stated. "The populations of 61 countries or areas are projected to decrease by 1 per cent or more between 2022 and 2050, owing to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration.”

The coronavirus pandemic also affected populations through its impact on fertility, death rates and migration.

The report said that the pandemic was largely responsible for the fall in global life expectancy at birth, from 72.8 years in 2019 to 71.0 in 2021.

Global deaths also surged, from 57.94 million in 2019 to 69.25 million in 2021.

Fertility rates in India

Population control has remained a touchy subject in India with a debate raging for decades on state intervention.

The country went through a controversial programme of forced sterilisations in the 1970s.

Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh started a population control programme on Monday for the more than 200 million residents of India’s most populated state.

“If we talk about population stabilisation, there is a need to rise above caste, creed, region, language and join a comprehensive programme of awareness and equality in society,” he said.

Still, government statistics released last year suggest India's fertility rate has fallen below replacement levels.

Dr Srinivas Goli, a population studies professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University argued that India’s fertility rate is naturally dropping and there is no need to worry about the projections as the population levels will naturally stabilise.

"The current fertility level is already below the replacement level," he told The National. "India should not worry about the fertility level as this is the momentum of the earlier cohort."

Updated: July 12, 2022, 12:52 PM