Published on: April 22, 2023

World’s most populous nation

World’s most populous nation

Why in news? India has surpassed China to become the world’s most populous nation with 142.86 crore people, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its State of World Population (SOWP) report, ‘8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities’


Global scenario:

  • China now has a population of 142.57 crore, thus being the second most populous country, the UN world population dashboard showed.
  • Central and Southern Asia is expected to become the most populous region in the world by 2037
  • More than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries — the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania. Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to continue growing through 2100 and to contribute more than half of the global population increase anticipated through 2050.
  • This is the first time that India has topped the UN list of most populous countries since it started collecting population data in 1950.
  • According to the United Nations’ World Population Prospects-2022, India’s population was 86.1 crore while China’s population was 114.4 crore in 1950.
  • According to the World Population Prospects-2022, India’s population last year was 141.2 crore while China’s population was 142.6 crore.
  • The global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under one per cent in 2020.

UNFPA’s State of the World Population Report (SWOP) 2023 about India

  • According to the report about 25 per cent of India’s population is in the age group of 0-14 years, 18 per cent in the 10 to 19 age group, 26 per cent in the age bracket of 10 to 24 years, 68 per cent in 15 to 64 years age group, and 7 per cent above 65 years.
  • The population demographics of India vary from state to state.Kerala and Punjab have an ageing population while Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have a young population.
  • According to the UNFPA, the life expectancy at birth for male in India is 71 while for female it is 74 years.
  • The contraceptive prevalence rate of women aged 15-49 by any method as of 2023 is 51 per cent.
  • By 2050, India’s population is expected to rise to 166.8 crore while China’s population would dip to 131.7 crore.

Being most populous country is good or bad?

  • As the country India with the largest youth cohort — its 254 million youth (15-24 years) — can be a source of innovation, new thinking and lasting solutions.
  • with 68% of its population as youth, and working population, India could have one of the largest workforces in the world, giving it a global advantage.
  • The trajectory can leapfrog forward if women and girls, in particular, are equipped with equal educational and skill-building opportunities, access to technology and digital innovations, and most importantly with information and power to fully exercise their reproductive rights and choices

Way ahead for India

  • Ensuring gender equality, empowerment and advancing greater bodily autonomy for women and girls are the key determinants for a sustainable future.
  • Individual rights and choices should be respected, and all should be able to decide when to have children, if any, and how many
  • “Women and girls should be at the centre of sexual and reproductive policies and programmes. When rights, choices and equal value of all people are truly respected and held, only then can we unlock a future of infinite possibilities.

Factors Influencing the population growth:

  • Fertility rate: According to the United Nations, future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take.The World Population Prospects (2022) said that global fertility is projected to fall from 2.3 children per woman in 2021 to 2.1 in 2050.
  • Increasing longevity: Overall, significant gains in life expectancy have been achieved in recent years. Globally, life expectancy at birth is expected to rise from 72.8 years in 2019 to 77.2 years in 2050.
  • International migration: International migration is a much smaller component of population change than births or deaths. However, in some countries and areas, the impact of migration on population size is significant. Between 2010 and 2021, seventeen countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants, while ten countries will see a net outflow of a similar magnitude.