The United Nations has shared the latest global population estimates and projections, indicating that China will soon cede its long-held status as the world’s most populous country.
According to the U.N. report, India’s populace in April was expected to reach 1,425,775,850 people, matching and surpassing mainland China‘s population.
The U.N. has said that a specific date when India’s population overtakes China’s is the approximate result of estimates.
“Uncertainty associated with the resulting estimates and projections implies that the date on which India is expected to surpass China in population size is approximate and subject to revision as more data become available,” the U.N. said in its report.
“It’s certainly a critical period for India, but it doesn’t depend only on the demography,” John Wilmoth, director of the U.N.’s population division said.
In 1971, India and China both had nearly equivalent fertility rates, with each woman having just under six children, according to the U.N. However, the implementation of China’s one-child policy, in conjunction with economic expansion and increasing income and education levels, contributed to a decline in fertility rates over the years. This decrease occurred well before China began to relax its one-child policy.
“For this century to belong to India, it must make the most of its demographic advantage,” the Associate Press quoted Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic affairs at the Centre for Policy Research. “China’s demographic crisis is timely for India’s growth — but only if it can find enough good quality employment for its teeming youth.”
India has enacted policies to discourage large families, but the U.N. said the fertility rate had fallen slower than China.
“China and India offer contrasting examples of national trajectories through the demographic transition,” the U.N. said in the report.