In the United Nations report that projects India will overtake China as the most populous country by around 2027 (The Indian Express, June 18), other trends and projections include an ageing population and an improving sex ratio, both globally and in India. Some of the key takeaways from ‘World Population Projections 2019: Highlights’:
The big picture
1— While the report projects the world population to some 9.7 billion by 2050, it says the overall growth rate will continue to fall. The next 30 years will see the population add 2 billion people to today’s 7.7 billion, and reach 11 billion by the end of the century. The countries expected to show the biggest increase are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.
However, fertility rates are falling worldwide. The average number of births per woman globally, from 3.2 in 1990, fell to 2.5 by 2019, and is projected to fall further to 2.2 births by 2050. To avoid decline in a national population, a fertility level of 2.1 births per woman is necessary (in the absence of immigration).
More in 65+ bracket
2— In 2018, for the first time, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five. Projections indicate that by 2050, there will be more than twice as many persons above 65 as children under five. By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 or over will also surpass the number of adolescents and youth aged 15-24.
In India, children under age five still outnumber the over-65 population, who are projected to overtake the under-five group between 2025 and 2030. By 2050, persons over age 65 will make up about one-seventh of India’s population. By then, the 15-24 group in India (13.8%), too, will outnumber the over-65 group (13.6%). Children under age five are projected to constitute less than 6% of India’s population in 2050, as compared to 7% globally.
3— Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind. Today, the average lifespan of a baby born in one of the least developed countries will be some 7 years shorter than one born in a developed country, the report said. The main reasons cited in the report are high child and maternal mortality rates, conflict and insecurity, and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.
4— The populations of 55 countries are projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2019 and 2050 because of sustained low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration. The largest relative reductions in population size over that period, with losses of around 20% or more, are expected in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Migration flows have become a major reason for population change in certain regions, the report said. Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines are seeing the largest migratory outflows resulting from the demand for migrant workers; and Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela are the countries where the largest numbers are leaving because of insecurity or conflict, it said.
5— Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.