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India to have more people than China by mid-2023: UN

  • Published
    20th Apr, 2023

India is probably the world’s most populous country already. The latest estimates from the United Nations (UN) say India’s population is expected to surpass that of mainland China by around 3 million people by the end of June 2023.

Key Highlights of the UN Report

According to demographic data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-

Grouping the population

  • 25 per cent of India's population is estimated at below 14 years old
  • 18 per cent is estimated in the 10-19 year age group
  • 26 per cent in the 10-24 year bracket
  • 68 per cent in the 15-64 year age group
  • 7 per cent is estimated to be over 65 years old

In contrast, 17% of China’s population is estimated to be below 14 years of age, and 14 per cent is estimated to be above 65 years old.

  • The UN report estimates India’s population will hit 1428.6 million by mid-2023, while China’s (excluding Hong Kong and Macao, Special Administrative Regions of China, and Taiwan Province of China) is estimated to reach 1425.7 million.
  • Asia's third-largest economy will soon house almost a fifth of humanity, more than the populations of Europe, Africa, or the Americas.
  • Distant third: The United States is estimated to be a distant number three in the rankings, with nearly 340 million people.
  • The report says eight countries will account for half the projected growth in global population by 2050: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

What does the Indian government’s data show?

  • Data from the Indian government, meanwhile, says India's annual population growth has averaged 1.2 per cent since 2011, compared with 1.7 per cent in the 10 years previously.

Cause of Overpopulation

  • Poor livelihood has encouraged the country’s poor and illiterate population to reproduce at a higher rate than their middle- and high-income counterparts.
  • Lack of family planning/unawareness
  • Poor contraceptives use
  • The decline in death rate, better medical capabilities
  • Agricultural advancements

What are the issues/challenges?

  • The burden on resources: With a large population, prevalent job crises and climate change directly affect its limited resources. India home to 18% of the global population has only 4 per cent of its water resources.
  • Environmental degradation: This rapid growth is putting immense pressure on India's resources, and is contributing to environmental degradation, poverty, and social unrest. 
  • The burden on land: With an increase in population, the land holdings will become smaller, also because the land is likely to be diverted for non-farming purposes.

Looking at the positive side

  • India could use this potential demographic advantage (half its population is under the age of 30) to become the world's fastest-growing major economy.
  • The population needs to be seen as a source of innovation, new thinking and lasting solutions.

Where does India need to work now?

India needs to advance on the given broad fronts to fully cash in on its demographic dividend and reshape the global economy in the process –

  • Urbanization
  • Infrastructure
  • up-skilling and broadening its labour force
  • boosting manufacturing
  • Social Security and universal health
  • Demographic liability
  • Resource allocation and Achieving SDGs
  • Poverty and Quality of Life


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