New Delhi, April 19 (BNA): India is on track to become the most populous country in the world with a rising young population, and will overtake China by mid-2023, according to data released by the United Nations on Wednesday.
The hope is that India’s 254 million people aged between 15 and 24 – the largest number in the world – can help drive economic growth for years to come. Meanwhile, China is grappling with an aging population and stagnant population growth, raising expectations that demographic changes could pave the way for India to become economically and globally heavy.
Tech giant Apple, among others, hopes to turn India into a potential manufacturing hub as it moves some production out of China, where wages are rising as the working-age population shrinks.
The United Nations said in a report that India will have about 2.9 million peopleore from China sometime in the middle of this year. India will have an estimated 1.4286 billion people versus 1.4257 billion in mainland China at that time, according to UN projections. Demographers say the limitations of population data make it impossible to calculate an exact date.
China has the largest population in the world since at least 1950, the year the United Nations began releasing population data. China and India each have over 1.4 billion people, and together they make up more than a third of the world’s population of 8 billion.
Not long ago, India wasn’t expected to become its most populous country until later in the decade. But the timing has been accelerated by China’s declining fertility rate, as families have fewer children.
Today, China is experiencing an aging population with stagnant growth despite the government’s reversal of the one-child policy seven years ago.
In contrast, India has a much smaller population, a higher fertility rate, and has seen a decline in infant mortality over the past three decades. However, the country’s fertility rate has been steadily declining, from more than five births per woman in 1960 to just over two in 2020, according to World Bank data.
Experts say growth in India could see an expansion of the workforce that could fuel growth in the country for decades to come. But they warn that it could quickly become a demographic burden if India’s growing number of young people is not sufficiently employed.
The report included 1,007 Indians, 63% of whom said economic issues were their top concern when considering population change, followed by concerns about the environment, health and human rights.
The results of the Indian survey indicate that the fears of the population have filtered down to large portions of the general public. “However, the population numbers should not cause concern or cause concern,” Andrea Wognar, UNFPA Representative in India, said in a statement. She added that it should be seen as a symbol of progress and development “if individual rights and choices are upheld”.
The hope is that India’s large number of working-age people will give it a “demographic dividend,” or the potential for economic growth when the young working-age population outnumbers the elderly who are well beyond their working years..
This is what has helped China become an economic and global heavyweight, even as it now has fewer working-age adults.
On Wednesday, China responded to news of the UN report, with foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin saying that “a country’s demographic dividend depends not only on quantity but also on quality.”
“People are important, and so is talent… China’s demographic dividend has not disappeared, the talent dividend is underway and the development momentum is still strong,” Wang said at a press briefing.