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Prelims Capsule

Human Development

India to takeover China to become Most Populated Country by 2025 – China’s population declines

India to takeover China to become Most Populated Country by 2025 – China’s population declines


  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Population

Why in news?

  • India will take over China in terms of population by 2025, an analysis of the provisional Census, 2011 data suggests.


  • The latest data put China on course to be overtaken by India as the most populous country, which is expected to happen by the year 2025.
  • India has maintained a fertility rate of around 2.3, which indicates that its population may surpass China’s by 2023 or 2024,
  • In the decade up to 2020, China’s population grew at its slowest rate since the 1950s, mirroring trends seen in neighboring South Korea and Japan.
  • It now stands at 141.2 crore people, with the rate of growth falling for the fourth consecutive year.
  • UN’s estimate
    • The United Nations expects China’s population to begin declining after 2030, but some experts say this could happen as early as in the next one or two years.

The fertility rate of India by 2050 and 2100

  • Since each woman must have two children to replace herself and her husband, the population would plummet.
  • In the same model, compare India’s expected fertility rate of 1.29 to the estimated cohort fertility of 1.53 for the US and 1.78 for France.
  • The IHME predictions are nearly equivalent to commonly used United Nations projections until 2050.
  • India’s population is expected to reach 1.64 billion by 2050, according to the UN, and 1.61 billion by 2048, according to the IHME.
  • The two estimates diverge only in the second half of the century, with the UN predicting a population of 1.45 billion by 2100 and the IHME predicting 1.09 billion.

Factors affecting fertility rates

  • Fertility largely depends upon social setting and programme strength.
  • Programme strength is indicated by the unmet need for contraception, which has several components.
  • The National Family Health Survey provides us estimates for the unmet need at 12.9 percent and contraceptive prevalence of 53.5 percent for India.
  • Female education is a key indicator for a social setting, the higher the female education level, the lower the fertility.
  • As the literacy of women in the reproductive age group is improving rapidly, we can be sanguine about continued fertility reduction.

Total fertility rate

  • For a generation to exactly replace itself, the replacement-level total fertility rate (TFR) is taken to be 2.1, representing the average number of children a woman would need to have. In the study, the global TFR is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100.
  • The TFR is projected to fall below 2.1 in 183 countries. In 23 countries including Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Spain, it is projected to shrink by more than 50%.


  • India is projected to remain the world’s most populated nation by the end of the century (between 2019 and 2050) (with an estimated population of 1.37 billion), followed by China, Nigeria, the United States of America, and Pakistan.
    • In the United States too, the birth rate has dropped to 1.6, the lowest on record.
  • Slowest since the 1950’s-The population growth rate in China is the slowest since 1953 when the first census was carried out.
    • The slump in the growth rate – despite Beijing withdrawing the one-child policy in 2016 after it was in force since the late 1970s.
  • The replacement rate of China
    • The country’s fertility rate has dropped to 1.3, far below the replacement level of 2.1 required for a generation to have enough children to replace it.
  • Asia and the West
    • China’s slowing population growth is part of a trend seen in many countries in Asia and the West. Last year, South Korea saw its population decline for the first time in history. In the United States too, the birth rate has dropped to 1.6, the lowest on record.

Global Data

  • The world population is forecasted to peak at around 9.7 billion people in 2064 and fall to 8.8 billion by the century’s end, with 23 countries seeing populations shrink by more than 50%, including Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Spain.
  • By 2100, a total of 183 out of 195 countries will have TFR below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman.
  • The global TFR is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100, well below the minimum rate of 2.1.
  • Huge shifts in the global age structure, with an estimated 2.37 billion individuals over 65 years globally in 2100 compared with the 703 million in 2019.


  • When the young population in a country declines, it creates labour shortages, which have a major detrimental impact on the economy.
  • More older people also means that demands for healthcare and pensions can soar, burdening the country’s social spending system further when fewer people are working and contributing to it.


  • The new demographic projections are in contrast to the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) programs of “continuing” global development.
  • We illustrate major obstacles to a declining workforce’s economic growth, the heavy pressure the aging population poses on health and social support systems.
  • When countries move towards priority growth, there is an imminent need to will fertility.
  • At the same time, improved survival at all ages will lead to the rapid aging of the population, particularly at the older ages.
  • A problem unique to China
    • Though is that unlike the other developed countries part of this trend, it is still a middle-income society, despite being the world’s secondlargest economy.
    • Prosperous countries like Japan and Germany, which face similar demographic challenges, can depend on investments in factories, technology, and foreign assets. China, however, still depends on labor-intensive manufacturing and farming.
    • A drop in demographic dividend could thus hurt China and other developing nations like India more than those in the rich world,

One Child Policy of China

  • It was adopted out of the Malthusian fears that unchecked population growth would lead to economic and environmental catastrophe. It was also a response to concerns about food shortages.
  • Effectiveness
    • Helps to ease the overpopulation problems.
    • It is seen as practical by some families.
    • Lowers the poverty rate.
  • In essence, it did bring down the population by 400 million.
  • But, it failed to spark a baby boomWhen the announcement was made, 11 million couples were eligible to have a second child. As such, officials were expecting around two million births in 2014.
  • That figure never came to fruition as only 700,000 couples applied for the new dispensation and only 620,000 were given a permit. In other words, China is facing a huge demographic issue in the next years to come. They have a rapidly aging population where a quarter will be over 60 by 2030.

Way forward

  • India is on the right side of demographic change, offering a golden opportunity for its rapid socio-economic growth if policymakers agree with this shift in development policies.
  • India will face demographic catastrophe if the increased workforce is not adequately qualified, trained, and given gainful jobs.
  • The possible disastrous effects of a declining working-age population should be addressed by countries.
  • Improving TFR
    • Suggested initiatives include, for example, incentives to improve TFR and the use of artificial intelligence as a road to self-sufficiency.
    • The effects of a decrease in fertility on women’s rights to reproductive health must be balanced by greater economic independence.
    • This will allow women to negotiate on their terms with the system and for more support services as well.
  • Learn from other nations
    • By learning from global strategies from countries like Japan and Korea, and by developing solutions that take into account domestic challenges, India could reap the benefits.
  • Proper investment in human capital is required to reap the benefits of the change by concentrating on schooling, skill creation, and healthcare facilities.

Mains model question

  • India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2027. Discuss the challenges of the rising population and suggest a way forward.