New Delhi: India may have already surpassed China as the world’s most-populous nation, Bloomberg reported citing estimates from the World Population Review which is an independent organisation focused on census and demographics.
According to the organisation’s estimated, India’s population stood at 1.417 billion as of end 2022, a little over 5 million more than the 1.412 billion reported by China when Beijing announced the first decline in population numbers since the 1960s. Although, the United Nations expects India to reach the milestone later this year.
Another estimate by research platform Macrotrends puts India’s population at 1.428 billion, Bloomberg reported. Although India’s population growth has slowed, World Population Review said that it expected the number to continue to rise until at least 2050.
The likelihood of India passing that major milestone within a few months shot up Tuesday, when China reported that its population shrank in 2022 for the first time in more than 60 years.
Also Read: China’s Population Drops First Time In Decades; Shrinks to 1.41 Billion in 2022
This shift will have significant economic implications for both Asian giants, which have more than 1.4 billion residents each.
Along with the population data, China also reported one of its worst economic growth numbers in nearly half a century, underscoring the steep challenges the country faces as its labor force shrinks and the ranks of the retired swell.
For India, what economists and analysts call the “demographic dividend” could continue to support rapid growth as the number of healthy workers increases.
There are fears the country might miss out, however. That’s because India is simply not creating employment opportunities for the millions of young job seekers already entering the workforce every year.
The South Asian nation’s working-age population stands at over 900 million, according to 2021 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This number is expected to hit more than 1 billion over the next decade, according to the Indian government.
But these numbers could become a liability if policymakers do not create enough jobs, experts warned. Already, data show a growing number of Indians are not even looking for work, given the lack of opportunities and low wages.
India’s labor force participation rate, an estimation of the active workforce and people looking for work, stood at 46%, which is among the lowest in Asia, according to 2021 data from the World Bank. By comparison, the rates for China and the United States stood at 68% and 61% respectively in the same year.
For women, the numbers are even more alarming. India’s female work participation rate was just 19% in 2021, down from about 26% in 2005, the World Bank data shows.
India’s unemployment rate in December stood at 8.3%, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think tank headquartered in Mumbai, which publishes job data more regularly than the Indian government. In contrast, the US rate was about 3.5% at the end of last year.
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