world 8 billion india set to be most populous

World @ 8 billion, India set to be most populous

While India’s population growth is stablising, it is “still growing at 0.7% per year” and is set to surpass China in 2023 as the world’s most populous country, according to the United Nations Population Fund, which said the world’s population reached 8 billion on Tuesday.

China’s population is no longer growing and “may start declining as early as 2023”, the UN stated. It noted that India’s fertility rate has hit 2.1 births per woman — replacement-level fertility — and is falling.

“On 15 November, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion people. This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries,” the United Nations said in a statement.

The UN said while it took the global population 12 years to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion, it will take approximately 15 years — until 2037 — for it to reach 9 billion — “a sign that overall growth rate of global population is slowing”.

“Countries with the highest fertility levels tend to be those with the lowest income per capita…the UN said.

As of 2022, more than half the world’s population lives in Asia, China and India being the two most populous countries with more than 1.4 billion people each.

The World Population Prospects 2022, released in July of this year, put India’s population estimate at 1.412 billion this year, compared with China’s 1.426 billion.

According to the UN, falling mortality rate first led to a “spectacular population growth”, peaking at 2.1% per year between 1962 and 1965. Between 1950 and 1987, world population doubled from 2.5 billion to 5 billion. But as fewer children were born generation to generation, growth started to slow.

The UNFPA projects world population to peak at 10.4 billion in the 2080s and stay there until the end of the century.

According to the UN, 60% of the global population lives in a region where the fertility rate is below replacement level — up from 40% in 1990 — and international migration is now the driver of growth in many countries, with 281 million people living outside their country of birth in 2020.

All South Asian nations — India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — have seen high levels of emigration in recent years.

Pointing out that population growth is stabilising across the world, Poonam Muttreja, executive director, Population Foundation of India, said, “We should now focus on eliminating unmet need for contraception, so that women can decide if they want to have children, and if yes, when, how many, and at what intervals.”

PFI’s Alok Vajpayee said that an estimation by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in University of Washington has projected that world population will peak in 2054 at 9.7 billion and start declining after that, reaching 8.7 billion in 2100.

“Similarly, for India, we are likely to peak in 2048 at 1.7 billion population and then start declining to 1.1 billion at the end of the century,” he said.

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