India Surpasses China as World’s Most Populous Country
India has overtaken China as the world’s most populous country. What does this mean for both nations and the world?
India has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the world's most populous country, according to the latest United Nations data. As of April 2023, India's population is estimated at 1.4286 billion, slightly higher than China's 1.4257 billion people.
This marks the end of China's long-held status as the world's most populous nation, which it has maintained for centuries. China's population reached its peak size of 1.426 billion in 2022 and has started to decline due to its low fertility rate and aging population. Projections indicate that the size of the Chinese population could drop below 1 billion before the end of the century.
By contrast, India's population is expected to continue growing for several decades, driven by its relatively high fertility rate and young population. India has a median age of 28.4 years, compared to China's 38.4 years. About half of India's population is under the age of 25, while only a quarter of China's population is in that age group.
The demographic shift has significant implications for both countries and the world at large. India faces the challenge of providing adequate education, health care, employment, and infrastructure for its growing population, while also addressing issues such as poverty, inequality, gender discrimination, and environmental degradation. India also needs to harness its demographic dividend - the potential economic benefit from having a large working-age population - by creating more opportunities for skill development and innovation.
China, on the other hand, faces the challenge of coping with its shrinking and aging population, which could affect its economic growth, social stability, and global influence. China also needs to address its gender imbalance - the result of its one-child policy that favored boys over girls - which could lead to social problems such as a shortage of marriageable women and increased violence against women.
Both countries also have important roles to play in the global arena, as they are among the largest economies, consumers, and emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Their bilateral relations are also crucial for regional and global peace and security, especially amid their ongoing border disputes and strategic rivalry.
As India surpasses China as the world's most populous country, it is an opportunity for both nations to reflect on their achievements and challenges, and to cooperate on common interests and goals for the benefit of their people and the world.