The World Hits 8 Billion In Population. But There's More To It
India will become the world's most populous country next year, but the pace is slowing down.
On Tuesday, according to United Nations Population Fund, the world welcomed its eight billionth inhabitant.
It took the world just 12 years to go from seven to eight billion in population. The next billion, the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency estimates, will take less than 15 years till 2037. While the global population will hit 9.7 billion by 2050, it will reach 10.4 billion by the end of the 21st century, the UN forecasts in its latest World Population Prospects report.
According to the UNFPA, the annual population growth rate for the world stood at 2.3% in 1963, but has since dropped to 0.8% this year.
According to the UN, more than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries:
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The United Republic of Tanzania
Currently, China (1.426 billion) is the most populous country in the world, with India (1.412 billion) coming in a close second. Next year though, India is expected to surpass China as the most populous country.
Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to continue growing through 2100 and to contribute more than half of the global population increase anticipated through 2050.
The 46 least developed countries are among the world’s fastest-growing. Many are projected to double in population between 2022 and 2050, putting additional pressure on resources and posing challenges to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, the UN said.
Fall In Birth Rate
Even as the overall population grows, the pace of new births is likely to come down over the next few years. Two-thirds of all people globally live in a country or area where fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, which is roughly the level required for populations with low mortality to stabilise in the long run, the UN said in its report.
In 2021, the average global fertility rate stood at 2.3 births per woman, falling from about 5 births per woman in the mid-twentieth century. According to the assumptions about future fertility made in the UN projections, by 2050, the average global fertility rate is expected to have declined to 2.1.
"To be more precise, with a probability of 95 per cent, global total fertility in 2050 is expected to lie between 1.88 and 2.42 births per woman," the report said.
By 2050, the average birth rate per woman will remain above 2 for regions including sub-Saharan Africa, Northern and Western Africa and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand).
Apart from fertility, globally, longer lives is also a factor in assessing population growth. In 2019, global life expectancy at birth stood at 72.8 years, up by almost 9 years since 1990. By 2050, global life expectancy is expected to rise to 77.2 years, the UN projects.
However, life expectancy continues to vary, depending on the countries it is measured in. Low-income countries showed a life expectancy at birth of 63, nearly 10 years below the global average.
A child born in low income countries is 13 times more likely to die before the age of 5, than a child born in a high income country.
Countries with the highest life expectancy at birth include Australia, Hong Kong, Macao and Japan. Those with the lowest expectancy include Central African Republic, Chad, Lesotho and Nigeria.
A variation in life expectancy at birth exists between the sexes too, with women having a longer life expectancy than men. In 2021, life expectancy at birth for women exceeded that for men by 5.4 years globally, with female and male life expectancies standing at 73.8 and 68.4, respectively.
Because of the female advantage in life expectancy, women outnumber men at older ages in almost all populations. Globally, women comprised 55.7% of persons aged 65 or older in 2022, and their share is projected to decline slightly to 54.5% by 2050.
India's Population Story
In 1960, India contributed to 14.77% of the world population at 450 million people. In about 50 years, by 2011, the population here rose to 1.26 billion, or 17.78% of the total population. Next year, while the total population is expected to rise to 1.43 billion, India's share in the global population will remain largely stagnant, the UN estimates shows.
Once India becomes the most populous country next year, the number of people in the country will continue to rise and will peak around 1.6-1.7 billion in 2065. The median population is likely to fall after that and settle around 1.5 billion by the end of the century.
In India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-owned Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects a total fertility rate of 1.29 births per woman in 2100 instead of 1.69 in the UN's medium scenario. This will result in a population that is 433 million smaller than the UN's projections at the end of the century.
Among age groups, the 25-64 years bracket will be the largest, with this group peaking in 2050 at a little more than 900 million in India.
Indians above the age of 65 will rise sharply in the latter half of the century, the UN data shows.
Life expectancy at birth in India currently stands at over 70 years and is expected to improve to nearly 85 years by 2100.
According to UN data, while currently the male and female life expectancy in India is comparable, the gap will widen with women living longer over the next two decades.