The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No. 1 in population, sooner

New York, Feb. 25: India will have more people than the entire population in developed countries by 2025. That figure will further soar to nearly 1.6 billion in yet another 25 years even as China's population declines.

India will overtake China as the world's most populous nation five years earlier than previously predicted. That landmark exchange of places will now take place by 2030, according to a new report released here yesterday by the UN's population division. India's population, which is currently estimated at 1.103 billion, will go up to 1.395 billion by 2025 and further up to 1.593 billion by 2050.

China, which has 1.316 billion people now, will see its population grow to 1.441 billion by 2025, before dropping to 1.392 billion in 2050.

'We have been saying for a while that India would cross over China before 2050,' Cheryl Sawyer, the UN's demographer, said at a news conference, releasing the report. 'But the crossover has been getting earlier and earlier and we now say it will happen before 2030. This is five years earlier than we said two years ago.'

Changes in China's population trends have been brought about not only because of its strict policies on family planning. 'Modernisation and uprooting people from traditional lifestyles into the modern economy' have created 'other opportunities that compete with having large families, like consumerism, travel and education' for the Chinese people, said Thomas Buettner, chief of the UN population division's estimates and projection section.

While Asia's demography undergoes such major changes, the population of richer developed countries will remain mostly constant at 1.2 billion even by 2050. But the population of the world's 50 poorest countries will more than double by that time. Hania Zlotnik, the division's new director, attributed the prediction that India will overtake China in population to comparative fertility rates. India has a current fertility rate of three children per woman while China's is 1.7 children per woman, albeit rising to 1.85.

By 2050, the world's total population will go up to 9.1 billion from the current figure of 6.5 billion, almost the entire growth coming from developing countries. The report said there will be a three-fold rise in populations of Afghanistan, Chad and East Timor by the middle of this century. 'They are the ones not being able to provide adequate shelter, adequate food for all their people,' said Zlotnik.

Nine countries ' India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, the US, Ethiopia and China ' will contribute to half the increase in world population between now and 2050.

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