The United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP), 2022, forecasts India becoming the most populous country by 2023, surpassing China, with a 140 crore population. Now, at the third stage of the demographic transition, and experiencing a slowing growth rate due to constant low mortality and rapidly declining fertility, India has 17.5% of the world’s population. As per the latest WPP, India will reach 150 crore by 2030 and 166 crore by 2050.



  • In its 75-year journey since Independence, the country has seen a sea change in its demographic structure.
  • In the 1960s, India had a population growth rate of over 2%. At the current rate of growth, this is expected to fall to 1% by 2025.
  • However, there is a long way to go for the country to achieve stability in population. This is expected to be achieved no later than 2064 and is projected to be at 170 crore (as mentioned in WPP 2022).


The recent trends vis-a-vis population in India

  • Last year, India reached a significant demographic milestone as, for the first time, its total fertility rate (TFR) slipped to two, below the replacement level fertility (2.1 children per woman), as per the National Family Health Survey.
  • However, even after reaching the replacement level of fertility, the population will continue to grow for three to four decades owing to the population momentum (large cohorts of women in their reproductive age groups).
  • Several States have reached a TFR of two except for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Manipur and Meghalaya. All these States face bottlenecks in achieving a low TFR. These include high illiteracy levels, rampant child marriage, high levels of under-five mortality rates, a low workforce participation of women, and low contraceptive usage compared to other States.
  • A majority of women in these States do not have much of an economic or decisive say in their lives. Without ameliorating the status of women in society (quality of life), only lopsided development is achievable .


India’s demographic dividend

  • A larger population is perceived to mean greater human capital, higher economic growth and improved standards of living. In the last seven decades, the share of the working age population has grown from 50% to 65%, resulting in a remarkable decline in the dependency ratio (number of children and elderly persons per working age population).
  • As in the WPP 2022, India will have one of the largest workforces globally, i.e., in the next 25 years, one in five working-age group persons will be living in India. This working-age bulge will keep growing till the mid-2050s, and India must make use of it. 


What are the obstacles in realising the demographic dividend?

  • India’s labour force is constrained by the absence of women from the workforce; only a fourth of women are employed.
  • The quality of educational attainments is not up to the mark, and the country’s workforce badly lacks the basic skills required for the modernised job market.
  • Having the largest population with one of the world’s lowest employment rates is another enormous hurdle in reaping the ‘demographic dividend’.
  • Another demographic concern of independent India is the male-dominant sex ratio. By 2022, the sex ratio is expected to be approximately 950 females per 1,000 males.
  • The disease pattern in the country is also witnessing a transition towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the cause of more than 62% of total deaths. In contrast, India’s health-care infrastructure is highly inadequate and inefficient. Additionally, India’s public health financing is low, varying between 1% and 1.5% of GDP, which is among the lowest percentages in the world.


Way forward

  • India is called a young nation, with 50% of its population below 25 years of age. But the share of India’s elderly population is now increasing and is expected to be 12% by 2050. After 2050, the elderly population will increase sharply. So, advance investments in the development of a robust social, financial and healthcare support system for old people is the need of the hour.
  • The focus of action should be on extensive investment in human capital, on older adults living with dignity, and on healthy population ageing.
  • We should be prepared with suitable infrastructure, conducive social welfare schemes and massive investment in quality education and health. The focus should not be on population control; we do not have such a severe problem now. Instead, an augmentation of the quality of life should be the priority.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – Discuss the recent trends observed in the United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP), 2022. What should India do today to prepare itself for tomorrow?