NEW DELHI/ISLAMA­BAD: India is set to become the world’s most populous country by the end of June, UN estimates showed on Wednesday, posing huge challenges to a nation with creaking infrastructure and insufficient jobs for millions of young people.

The seismic shift will see India’s population hit 1.4286 billion — almost three million more than China’s 1.4257 billion — at mid-year, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) State of World Populat­ion 2023 report forecast.

Meanwhile, the latest UN estimates show that Pakistan’s population has reached 240.5 million in 2023, and it has emerged among the eight countries that will account for half the projected growth in global population by 2050.

China has generally been regarded as the world’s most populous country since the fall of the Roman Empire but last year its population shrank for the first time since 1960, while India’s has continued to rise, according to an AFP report.

Pakistan among eight countries accounting for half of all projected growth in world population by 2050

According to the Pew Research Centre, the number of people in India has grown by more than one billion since 1950, the year the UN began gathering population data.

Pakistan population at 240.5m

The report, released on Wednesday by the United Nat­ions Population Fund (UNF­PA), shows that in Pakis­tan, the life expectancy at birth for a male is 65 years and 70 years for female.

The total population breakdown is: 36pc people are aged 0–14 years; 22pc are aged 10–19 years; 32pc are aged 10–24 years; and 60pc are aged 15–64 years. The population aged 65 and over only accounts for four per cent, the while total fertility rate per woman is 3.3.

“Women’s bodies should not be held captive to population targets,” says UNFPA Execu­tive Director Dr Natalia Kan­em. “To build thriving and inclusive societies, regar­dless of population size, we must radically rethink how we talk about and plan for population change.”

Demographic slump

China said that it “implements a national strategy to actively respond to population ageing, promotes the three-child birth policy and supporting measures, and activ­ely responds to changes in population development”.

“China’s demographic dividend has not disappeared, the talent dividend is taking shape, and development mom­­ent­um remains strong,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

India has no recent official population data because it has not conducted a census since 2011, with a follow-up in 2021 delayed by the Covid pandemic.

The new UN report also estimated that the global population would have hit 8.045 billion by mid-2023, by which time almost one in five people on the planet will be Indian.

Other countries, mostly in Europe and Asia, can expect a demographic slump over the coming decades, according to other UN figures published last July.

In Africa, the continent’s population is expected to rise from 1.4 billion to 3.9 billion inhabitants by 2100, with about 38pc of Earth dwellers living there, compared to around 18pc today.

The population of the entire planet, meanwhile, is only expected to decline in the 2090s, after peaking at 10.4 billion, according to the UN.

Amin Ahmed in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2023

Opinion

On writing

On writing

There is no ceremony or ritual that marks any person as a writer except the simple yet unimaginably significant act of starting to write.

Editorial

A way forward
Updated 17 Jul, 2024

A way forward

Before political leaders inflict more damage, they must give talks a chance.
Export delusions
17 Jul, 2024

Export delusions

THE trade ministry’s ‘plan’ to almost double exports to $60bn over the next three years is nothing more than...
Diversity in UK politics
17 Jul, 2024

Diversity in UK politics

THE recent UK elections have ushered in the most diverse parliament in the nation’s history. Under the leadership...
Banning PTI
Updated 16 Jul, 2024

Banning PTI

It appears that the govt and its backers within the establishment have still not realised that they are in uncharted territory.
Nato at 75
16 Jul, 2024

Nato at 75

EMERGING from the ashes of World War II, and locked in confrontation with the Soviet-led Communist bloc for over ...
Non-stop massacres
16 Jul, 2024

Non-stop massacres

Netanyahu is cunningly pretending to talk peace while mercilessly pounding Gaza. What is clear is that a return to pre-Oct 7 status quo is impossible.