Will India Surpass China in Population?

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Currently, India has a population estimated to be approximately 1.28 billion people. She is thus the second most populous country in the world. Indians represent 17.31% of the population of the world. Hence, one in every six persons on Earth lives in India. The population of China in 2015 is estimated to be 1.37 billion people, making her the most populous country in the world.

Fertility Rate

Fertility rate is an estimated indication of the number of children an average woman can be expected to bear in her lifetime. In 1951, India had a fertility rate of 5.9, i.e., an average Indian woman could be expected to bear more than five children. The Chinese fertility rate then stood at 6.11, i.e., an average Chinese woman could be expected to bear more than six children in the course of her lifetime. Today the Chinese fertility rate has dropped to 1.54 children per woman. In other words, the average Chinese woman is bearing only one child. In the case of India, the fertility rate has dropped to 2.65 children per woman, i.e., an average Indian woman can be expected to bear more than two children in her lifetime. Thus, while the fertility rates of both India and China have both declined, the Chinese fertility rate is decelerating at a much faster rate than that of India.

Replacement Level

This is the level where the population stabilizes in the long run. Replacement level is when the fertility rate gradually decreases and stabilizes at approximately 2.1 children per woman. India is calculated to reach this level by 2035. In China, on the other hand, the total fertility rate has not only reached the replacement level in the late 1980s but has been falling below this level since 1991.

Growth Rate

The Indian population is growing at a rate double that of China. The population of India is growing at the rate of 1.55% annually and by 2025 is calculated to reach 1.4 billion. It is expected to keep increasing further up to and through the 2050s. China, in contrast, is growing at an annual growth rate of 0.65% and is expected to reach its peak level of 1.4 billion by 2025-26. Thereafter, it is expected to start decreasing.

Total Population

In 2014, China had a total population of 1.39 billion, which was 126 million more than the total population of India at 1.27 billion. Due to the above-mentioned factors, this difference is narrowing, and the total number of Indians is increasing gradually to catch up with and surpass the total Chinese population. India will be the world’s most populated country by 2028, with an estimated total population of approximately 1.45 billion people. The Chinese population will remain constant during this period and, thereafter, start decreasing by 2031.

Working-Age Population

This refers to that section of a country’s population between the ages of 15 and 64 years. In India, the percentage of the working-age population is estimated to rise from the 2009 level of 64% to 67% in 2020. By 2030, some two hundred and fifty million people will join the Indian workforce. China’s working-age population reached its peak of 73% in 2010 and has started to decline from 2014 onward. By 2050, it is calculated that China will start to experience a labor shortfall.

Elderly Population

The elderly population of India of the ages of 65 and above in 2013 was 5%, or 60 million people. This is expected to double by 2030.

Old-Age Support Ratio

This indicates the number of elderly people (aged 65 and above) of a country as a share of those working-age people (15 years to 64 years) of that country. In 2013, the Old-Age Support Ratio for India was 7% and is expected to rise to 11% by 2030. In China, the ‘œold-age support ratio’ is currently 11%. This is estimated to rise to 24% by 2030.


India will indeed surpass China in population. In the next 75 years, India will come in possession of a large number of working population, which if utilized with foresight will help to project the country as a powerful force on the globe. The measures being taken by the current government appear to be in the right direction.

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