Why in the news?

  • The 2022 edition of the United Nation’s World Population Prospects (WPP) has released a report where India is assumed to surpass China in terms of population being the world's most populous country.

What are the World Population Prospects?

  • The Population Division of the UN publishes WPP occurring every two years since 1951.
  • Each correction of the WPP delivers a documented time string of population arrows beginning in 1950.
  • It does so by taking into report recently released national data to redraft estimations of past trends in fertility, mortality or international migration.

Main takeaways for the global population

  • The slow pace of growth
    • The world’s population persists to grow, but the rate of growth is stalling down.
    • The global population is predicted to rise to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100.
    • In 2020, the global growth rate fell under 1% per year for the first time since 1950.
  • Region-wise differential
    • Rates of population growth differ enormously across countries and territories.
    • More than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be centralised in just eight countries- Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.
    • Contrasting growth rates among the world’s most considerable countries will re-order their ranking by size.
  • Ageing population
    • The population of more aged persons is increasing both in digits and as a percentage of the total.
    • The percentage of the global population aged 65 years or above is projected to increase from 10% in 2022 to 16% in 2050.
    • The report recommends measures for the ageing population by enhancing the sustainability of social security and pension systems and by setting universal health care and long-term care systems.
  • The decline in the fertility rate
    • A sustained decline in fertility has directed increased attention to the population at working ages (between 25 and 64 years), creating a possibility for accelerated economic growth per capita.
    • This transformation in the age issuance provides a time-bound chance for accelerated economic growth known as the “demographic dividend”.
      • The demographic dividend is the economic growth prospect that can result from changes in a population's age system, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).
  • International migration
    • This is having a consequential impact on population trends in some countries.
    • For high-income countries between 2000 and 2020, the assistance of international migration to population growth (net inflow of 80.5 million) surpassed the balance of births over deaths (66.2 million).
    • Over the next few decades, migration will be the exclusive driver of population growth in high-income countries.
    • In many of these countries, the outflows were due to quick labour movements, such as Pakistan (a net flow of -16.5 million), India (-3.5 million), Bangladesh (-2.9 million), and Nepal (-1.6 million) etc.

How reliable is the UN projection, and how do they compare with India’s Census?

  • In India, undoubtedly, the Registrar General reaches out with a population projection based on the Census.
  • The last projection was released in 2019 and it was established in Census 2011.
  • The Census point is a little lower than the UN projection.
  • Still, UN projection is largely recognised globally.

What is the significance of India overtaking China?

  • That India would surpass China has been known for a while.
  • Moreover, in the past, when the world population was still at 5-billion or 6-billion levels, there was a problem with overcrowding.
  • Those issues no longer exist because the global population is already 8 billion and various countries (including India) have acquired a substitute rate of fertility.
  • The circumstance now is not about the definitive numbers — India’s population is already 1.4 billion and may go up to 1.6 billion before dropping.

Way Forward

  • India must implement new policies where extensive population growth can be controlled.
  • India must not overlook the quality of life of the current population with a population growth issue.
  • India needs to focus on various factors to regulate the population hike.
  • The rise in the population of India will challenge economic growth and development as well.