India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in less than a decade, according to a new United Nations report.
China and India currently account for about 37% of the entire global population of roughly 7.7 billion, with China currently home to about 1.4 billion people and India to 1.3 billion.
But by 2027, India will have more people than China, according to the UN’s 2019 World Population Prospects report released Monday, and by 2050 the gap is expected to have widened even further.
“Between 2019 and 2050, 55 countries or areas are expected to see their populations decrease by at least 1%,” the report said, mostly due to low-levels of fertility and in some cases, high numbers of emigration.
“In the largest of these, China, the population is projected to shrink by 31.4 million, or 2.2 per cent.”
That would put China’s population at 1.1 billion, fewer than the 1.5 billion forecast for India.
By 2050, the report predicts the planet’s entire population will be 9.7 billion people, a staggering rise in just one century.
Five years after the founding of the UN in 1950, the global population was a mere 2.6 billion people.
The UN compiles the report using demographic trends and relevant patterns in human fertility, mortality and migration. The aim is to provide governments with information as they work towards the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
China has been attempting to preemptively tackle a looming population decline for years. With the country’s population rapidly aging and birth rates falling, Beijing even reversed its infamous One Child policy to encourage couples to have more children.
But with an increasingly urban population facing rising costs of living, attempts to push up the birth rate have failed.
Besides India overtaking China, the UN report said Nigeria will be the third most populous country by 2050 with an estimated 733 million people, overtaking the United States, which will fall to fourth place with a population of 434 million. Pakistan will remain the world’s fifth largest country in terms of population.
“Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges”, said Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in a statement.
More than half of the predicted global population by 2050 will be clustered in just nine countries, the report said: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.
Large global trends include decreasing populations, unprecedentedly large, aging populations due to rising life expectancy, and a narrowing discrepancy between rich and poor countries.