India to surpass China as world’s most populous country in April, UN says

By YP Rajesh

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s population is expected to match China’s by the end of April and then to surpass it as the world’s most populous country, the United Nations said on Monday.

The announcement by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) comes days after the UN Population Fund said last week India would have 2.9 million more people than China by the middle of 2023.

India’s population is expected to reach 1,425,775,850 by the end of this month, DESA said, based on the latest UN estimates and projections of the global population.

“China will soon cede its long-held status as the world’s most populous country,” it said, adding that “due to the uncertainty associated with estimating and projecting populations, the specific date on which India is expected to surpass China in population size is approximate and subject to revision.”

Last year, some population experts had used UN data to project India’s population would touch 1,425,775,850 on April 14, 2023.

But UN population officials had said it was not possible to pinpoint a date because of uncertainty relating to data from India and China, with India’s last census held in 2011 and the next, which had been due in 2021, being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“China’s population reached its peak size of 1.426 billion in 2022 and has started to fall. Projections indicate that the size of the Chinese population could drop below 1 billion before the end of the century,” DESA said.

“By contrast, India’s population is expected to continue growing for several decades.”

Between 2023 and 2050, the number of people aged 65 or over was expected to nearly double in China and to more than double in India, DESA said.

“Nevertheless, as a proportion of the total population, the growth of the older population in India will be much slower than in China,” it added.

While there was no official reaction from India to the UNFPA report last week, China said dividends from population growth did not only depend on quantity but also on quality and that China’s talent dividend was booming.

Indian analysts and economists said there was no cause for alarm in becoming the world’s most populous country as India’s growth in that regard has been slowing and its majority-young population could be a boon if it creates more opportunities for education and employment.

(Reporting by YP Rajesh; Editing by Bernadette Baum)