India could surpass China as the world’s most populous country in as few as seven years, more quickly than demographers expected. The New York Times has more:
In its 2015 revision report, the population division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs said China’s population was now 1.38 billion, compared with 1.31 billion in India. But in seven years, the populations of both are expected to reach 1.4 billion.
Thereafter, the report said, India’s population will grow for decades, to 1.5 billion in 2030 and 1.7 billion in 2050, while China’s is expected to remain fairly constant until the 2030s, when it is expected to slightly decrease.
Over all, the report said, the world’s current population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, slightly more than the 9.6 billion forecast two years ago. The number could reach 11.2 billion by the end of the century.
This story could be even more important than it looks. India’s population is younger than China’s, which means that its workforce will be growing much faster than China’s. That underlines the desperate need for India to become a manufacturing hub; high-tech jobs and calling centers won’t absorb this enormous population. On the other hand, that might not be all bad, because it suggests just what an opportunity lies in store for India to replace China as the workshop of the world. If it can pull off becoming the center of global manufacturing as the 21st century marches on, the future will be bright for the country.