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China Will No Longer Be The Most Populated Country By 2023, Finds UN Report

China has been the world's most populated country for centuries – but not for much longer.

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockJul 12 2022, 11:56 UTC
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India city population.
China's population is on the decline, but India's is on the rise. Image credit: Cavan-Images/Shutterstock.com

India will take the crown of the world’s most populated country away from China by 2023, according to a new United Nations (UN) report titled World Population Prospects 2022.

Released in time for World Population Day, the UN report predicts that 15 November 2022 will be the day that the global population reaches eight billion. However, it also highlights how humanity’s population boom is running out of steam, with the global population now growing at its slowest rate since 1950.

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Their projections suggest that the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.4 billion in 2100.

"This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates," António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said in a statement.

“In the world we strive to build, 8 billion people means 8 billion opportunities to live dignified and fulfilled lives,” added Guterres.

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Over half of the projected population increase up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania. 

Most of the 46 least developed countries (32 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa) are among the fastest-growing populations. Some of these countries are predicted to double in population between 2022 and 2050.  For instance, populations in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to continue growing until the end of the century and will contribute to over half of the global population increase expected until 2050.

On the other hand, up to 61 countries will see population declines between 2022 and 2050, including large parts of Europe that are being impacted by declining birth rates.

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China's population currently stands at around 1.426 billion and India's is around 1.412 billion. While India is set to continue its growth, reaching a population of 1.668 billion by 2050, China's population will undergo a decline, reaching around 1.317 billion by the mid-century.

As it currently stands, the world has slightly more men (50.3 percent) than women (49.7 percent). However, that’s set to change in the coming decades, with the number of women set to equal the number of men by 2050.

We also live in an aging world, with the proportion of people aged 65 or over is set to increase globally between 2022 and 2050. In 2022, approximately 10 percent of people are aged 65 or over, but that proportion is projected to reach nearly 12 percent in 2030 and 16 percent in 2050. This trend will be especially notable in Europe and Northern America, where one in every four people will be aged over 65 by 2050.

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Some of the UN’s findings are not totally in line with other projections, however. In 2020, a huge study published in The Lancet suggested that the global population will grow over the next few decades and peak in 2064 at around 9.7 billion people, before falling to 8.8 billion by 2100. If this becomes true, it would be the first time the global population has declined since the mid-14th century during the Black Death.


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