New estimates released Wednesday by the United Nations show India’s population will reach 1.428 billion by mid-year. China, which has had the world’s largest population since the U.N. began tracking data in 1950, will have 2.9 million less people than India by then.
The seed for China’s demographic decline was planted with the implementation of the one-child policy.
The policy, passed in 1980 and aimed at decelerating the rate of China’s population growth, had a calamitous effect on the ratio of male to female births and led to countless human rights abuses. Among the many consequences of the policy, there are now around 30 million more men than women in China.
Despite officially abandoning the one-child policy in 2016, the country’s population dropped in 2022 for the first time since the great famine of 1959-1961, although some believe the decline may have started as early as 2018.
Several theories exist for why China’s population has dropped, including a reluctance to have children during the severe pandemic lockdowns, as well as the cost of living rising, specially for the country’s urban population.
However, a look at China’s decades-long fall in fertility rate — which has fallen to just 1.19 children per woman from above six in the 1950s — shows that 2022’s figures match the trend.
Meanwhile, India’s population has surged, doubling in the past four decades. At the same time, it’s median age — at just 28, one of the youngest in the world — is more than 10 years below that of China.
By the end of the century, the U.N. forecasts that India will have close to twice the number of people as China. India’s population is expected to grow at least until 2063.