World’s largest population: Will India gain or lose?

For decades, India ran family planning programmes aimed at curbing its population growth amid limited resources.

Then, as the Indian economy took off after liberalisation in the 1990s, the country’s policymakers changed tack: The country’s vast, young labour pool, New Delhi argued, was a “demographic dividend” that would pay out handsomely for the Indian economy.

Now, that promise is set to be tested like never before. India is poised to overtake China to become the world’s most populous country, with more than 1.4 billion citizens, in April, the United Nations has predicted.

Though India’s birth rate has slowed down in recent years, the country has a larger working-age population in absolute numbers (1.1 billion) and proportion (75 percent of the population) than any other major economy.

Meanwhile, China is ageing, with its population declining in 2022 for the first time in more than 60 years. Its economic growth, which had skyrocketed at an average of nearly 10 percent a year since 1978, is now anaemic: The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 3 percent in 2022, and even by Beijing’s own estimates, is expected to increase by just 5 percent this year.

The disruptions of COVID-19 and rising geopolitical tensions with the West have also made industries and investors consider destinations other than the world’s second-largest economy for their supply chains and plants.



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