A recent report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) reiterated that India is on the verge of becoming the most populous nation in the world by mid-2023 surpassing China. In this context, we look at the UNFP numbers and compare them with the projections made by the National Commission on Population’s technical group under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
A recent report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) reiterated that India is on the verge of becoming the most populous nation in the world by mid-2023 surpassing China. Though this had been anticipated for quite some time, it is official only now. Further, the report states that 68% of India’s population is between the ages of 15 and 64, and about 25% of the population is under 14 years old, 18% between 10 and 19 years, 26% between 10 and 24 years, and 7% over 65.
In today’s story, we look at some of the key statistics related to the population projections of India.
India’s population in 2023 is pegged at 1.4 billion.
The total world population in 2023 stands at 8045 million. India’s population in 2023 is projected at 1428.6 million, while that of China is at 1425.7 million. China has been the most populous country since the 1950s and India is poised to replace China by mid-2023. Both nations cumulatively account for more than one-third of the global population of 8 billion. It is further projected that by 2050, the population of just eight nations—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania—is expected to account for half of the global population.
UN projections exceed the Indian projections by 40 million.
Population predictions can inform decision-makers about significant developments that may have an impact on economic growth and assist in the creation of flexible policies. The National Commission on Population (NCP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) established a technical group in 2020 to generate population forecasts for the years 2011-2036. The group was given the task of examining the methodology used in previous projections and creating new projections till 2036.
As per the data portal of the population division of the United Nations, the population of India in 2023 stood at 1.43 billion. However, the technical group under the MoHFW projected the population to be at 1.39 billion. The difference between these two projections is about 40 million.
The UN projections are based on “all available sources of data on population size and levels of fertility, mortality, and international migration.” It uses probabilistic approaches to take into consideration both the previous experiences of a certain nation and the past experiences of other countries under comparable conditions. The Technical group utilized the ‘Cohort Component Method’ as it is the universally accepted method of making population projections relying on fertility, mortality, and migration rates.
It is difficult to predict population dynamics with certainty because of a variety of factors, including medical and health interventions, food production and distribution, climatic variability, sociocultural context, political and economic conditions, and a host of other factors. The accuracy of the projected data is also dependent on the input data and the type of assumptions made on the future course. Further, it must be noted that the since the methodology adopted by these two agencies is different, the resulting projections are also different.
Indian population growth falls below the world population growth for the first time in 2018
Since India is a significant contributor to the global population, it is important to look at the growth rate of the population. The data from 1991 indicates that there is a consistent decline in the population growth rate of India, falling from 2.12% in 1991 to 0.81% in 2023. During the same period, the world population growth rate declined from 1.69% to 0.88%. The population growth rate of India fell below the world population growth rate for the first time in 2018, and it continues so.
Infant Mortality Rate & Total Fertility Rate declined by 72% & 50% respectively in last three decades in India.
The infant mortality rate (IMR) is defined as the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. Out of the 1000 live births in India in 1991, there were 87 deaths. However, in 2023, this figure fell to 24, decreasing by 72%. The 24 deaths per 1000 live births are still higher than other nations like China (5.7), and the United States of America (4.9), and almost on par with the global median (26.9).
The total fertility rate (births per woman) also fell from 3.96 in 1991 to 2.0 in 2023 for India, whereas in the USA, it fell from 2.05 to 1.66 and in China from 1.93 to 1.19 during the same period. The global TFR is projected to fall below the replacement level (The number of births per woman required to maintain the size of a population is known as the replacement fertility rate) of 2.1 by 2070.
Uneven growth of population across Indian states
Population growth varies across states owing to a plethora of conditions such as socio-economic circumstances, political environment, economic opportunities, and so on. The populations of a few states grew faster than others. Most of the states that saw big growth in population between 2001 and 2011 are situated in North India. These states showed slower growth rates between 2011 and 2023. Kerala is the only major state that showed greater growth in population during 2011-2023 as compared to 2001-2011.
Upon categorizing states into regions based on geographical location, it is observed that the share of states located in the southern part of India out of the total Indian population is declining, while states in the western region have almost maintained the same share. However, the cumulative share of states located in northern, eastern, and central India is increasing. Four states- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand account for more than a quarter of the Indian population.