India’s population to overtake China’s by 2028; can it leverage the advantage?

Revised UN estimates show India’s population could overtake China’s sooner than expected, and have more young and working age people with improved life expectancy

By Ravi Bajpai
Published: Saturday 15 June 2013

India could become more populated than China by 2028, much sooner than expected, according to United Nations report titled World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, released this Friday.

The projected changes in the population demographics over this century once again underscore India’s potential manpower advantage over its rival Asian giant China. But can India overcome its growing challenges and seize its moment?

What does population growth comparison suggest

United Nations population projections show China’s population will start declining in the 2030s, but India’s will continue to grow till 2060s. This will throw up serious socio-economic sustainability challenges for India, but at the same time also offer strength in terms of sheer numbers.

Population (in millions) between 1950 and 2100. Take mouse over lines in graph for more details

Young and working age people

Nearly 62.6 per cent of India’s present population is between 15 years and 59 years, while the corresponding figure for China is 68.1 per cent. By 2050, the number of people in this age group in China will drop substantially to 52.5 per cent. By contrast, at 62.2 per cent in 2050, India would have maintained its present day percentage.

Percentage of total population between 15 and 59 years

India’s population is younger than that of china

With a median age of 26.4 years as of this year, India’s population is much younger than China’s (35.4 years). The median marks the point where half the population is older than that age and half is younger. By 2050, India’s median population is expected to increase to 36.7 years, still it will be only as much as what China reports today.

Present and projected median age of population

Increased life expectancy will boost strength

According to the population projections, India would continue to narrow its average life expectancy gap with China over the coming decades. In fact, India is projected to increase life expectancy at a rate faster than that of many big economies.

Average life expectancy at birth

World population prospects: the 2012 revision - key findings and advance tables

State of world population 2012

Population matters for sustainable development

Why population matters

The future population of India - A long range demographic view

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