Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 02 January 2023

How India is placed in World’s population

Source: By The Indian Express

The human population touched 8 billion on 15 November 2022, a milestone that heralds both opportunities and challenges — especially for India, which is set to become the world’s most populous country next year by surpassing China. While the United Nations hailed the 8-billion figures as “a testament to humanity’s achievements”, it also sounded a note of caution.

The growth of our population is a testament to humanity’s achievements, including reductions in poverty and gender inequality, advancements in health care and expanded access to education. These have resulted in more women surviving childbirth, more children surviving their early years, and longer, healthier lifespans, decade after decade, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

However, in a report, Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said rapid population growth can make challenges of hunger and poverty steeper. “Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult, the UN official said.

Unequal distribution

The UN population report said the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under 1 per cent in 2020. The world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. It is projected to reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s and to remain at that level until 2100.

More than half of the projected increase in the 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 contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050, the report said.

How India is placed

India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023, “with prospects to reap the demographic dividend as the median age of an Indian this year was 28.7 years, compared to 38.4 for China and 48.6 for Japan against a global value of 30.3 years.

The population prospects report had said that India’s population stands at 1.412 billion in 2022, compared to China’s 1.426 billion. India is projected to have a population of 1.668 billion in 2050, way ahead of China’s 1.317 billion people by the middle of the century.

According to UNFPA estimates, 68 per cent of India’s population is between 15-64 years old in 2022, while people aged 65 and above comprise seven per cent of the population.

As per UN estimates, over 27 per cent of the country’s population is between the ages of 15-29. At 253 million, India is also home to the world’s largest adolescent population (10-19 years).

UNFPA has noted that India has its largest ever adolescent and youth population. According to UNFPA projections, India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world till 2030 and is currently experiencing a demographic window of opportunity, a “youth bulge” that will last till 2025.

How China is placed

China, which is weighed down by a rapidly increasing ageing population, is projected to enter a “severe ageing” phase in 2035 with 400 million people above 60 years. This can be blamed mainly on its decades of one-child policy.

China’s elderly population reached 267 million last year, accounting for 18.9 per cent, Wang Haidong, director of the National Health Commission’s Department of Aging and Health said. It is estimated that the elderly population will top 300 million by 2025 and 400 million by 2035, he said in September, according to Chinese official media reports.

The size of China’s senior population and its proportion of the total population is expected to peak around 2050, posing huge challenges to the provision of public services and to the national social security system, Wang said.

On the one hand, China is rapidly ageing, and on the other, its population is in decline due to falling birth rates. This is raising concerns over the future availability of a labour force, the main driver of the country’s economic growth.

China’s population grew by less than half a million-last year to 1.4126 billion as the birth rates fell for the fifth consecutive year. Since last year, China has allowed couples to have three children and even announced incentives for people to have more children.

Note of caution from UN secy general

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has highlighted some of the challenges the world is facing, saying that “as our human family grows larger, it is also growing more divided.

Unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion-strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict, Guterres wrote, adding, A handful of billionaires control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. The top one percent globally pockets one fifth of the world’s income, while people in the richest countries can expect to live up to 30 years longer than those in the poorest. As the world has grown richer and healthier in recent decades, these inequalities have grown too.

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