India is forecast to overtake China as the world's most populous country within the next three months, according to a recent report by the United Nations' population division. Currently, India's population stands at 1.41 billion, with 1 in 4 under the age of 15 and nearly half under the age of 25. China's population, however, is larger at 1.45 billion, but those under the age of 25 make up only a quarter of the population.
India and China have accounted for an estimated 35% of the world's population growth since 1950, but China's one-child policy, introduced in 1980, drastically reduced its birth rate and redirected its economic prospects. In recent years, women have been allowed to have up to three children, but the average birth rate still sits at 1.2. China's population is set to peak in the coming years and projected to decline.
India's population growth is also slowing, and the bulk of it is concentrated in the poorer regions of the north. By 2050, India is expected to provide more than a sixth of the world's population of working age (15 to 64 years old). This population has the potential to become a major contributor to the global economy, however, India must first address unemployment and the lack of skilled manual labor, as well as tackle the public pension system which is reportedly set to run out of money by 2035.
The UN report suggests that India will overtake China as the world's most populous country in the near future. It remains to be seen how India will address the various issues it faces, in order to ensure that its large, young population can become an economic powerhouse.