India set to become world’s most populous country by 2022

Global population is forecast to reach 11.2 billion in 2100, according to projections in new U.N. population report.

UNITED NATIONS (JULY 29, 2015) (UNTV) – India is set to overtake China and become the world’s most populous country in less than a decade – six years sooner than previously forecast, the United Nations said on Wednesday (July 29).

Fast-growing Nigeria is on course to outstrip the United States by about 2050 to become the country with the third largest population, the United Nations predicted.

The current global population of 7.3 billion is forecast to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, slightly above the last set of U.N. projections.

Most growth will happen in developing regions, particularly Africa, according to John Wilmoth, head of the U.N. population division.

“Currently the average woman is having around two and a half children over her lifetime. But this number varies widely around the world Africa has the highest fertility level with around 4.7 children per woman. Even assuming a continued decline in fertility, given this high starting point we anticipate a continued rapid growth of the African population, which will roughly double in size between now and 2050,” Wilmoth told reporters at a press conference that presented the report on World Population Prospects.

The report forecasts demographics that are crucial for designing and implementing the new global development goals being launched later this year to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

Wilmoth said the concentration of growth in the poorest countries would make it harder to eradicate poverty, combat hunger and expand schooling and health systems.

The world’s two largest nations, China and India, have well over 1 billion people each and are likely to switch places by 2022 – six years earlier than previously forecast.

Experts predict Africa will account for more than half the world’s population growth in the next 35 years.

Ten African countries – Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia – are projected to increase their populations five-fold or more by 2100.

Future population growth is highly dependent on the path of future fertility, as relatively small changes in fertility can, projected over decades, generate large differences in total population, the report said.

In recent years, fertility has declined in almost all parts of the world, while life expectancy has increased significantly in the poorest countries, rising from 56 to 62 since the beginning of the century.

Declining fertility and rising life expectancy mean the world is getting greyer, and most regions will have an ageing population, starting with Europe where one third of the population is projected to be over 60 by 2050, the report said.

Globally, the number of people aged 80 or over – currently 125 million – is projected to more than triple by 2050 and to increase more than seven times by 2100.

But populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under 15 account for two fifths of the population.