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Will India become the most populated country?

Posted April. 29, 2021 07:29,   

Updated April. 29, 2021 07:29


China’s population is likely to fall below 1.4 billion soon, handing over the title of the world’s most populated country to India. This is the first time that China’s population has dropped since the late 1950s when Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward failed and tens of millions of people starved to death as a result. China is concerned about how the steep fall of its population will adversely affect the country’s economy and the overall society.

“The latest Chinese census, which was completed in December but has yet to be made public, is expected to report the total population of the country at less than 1.4 billion,” the British media Financial Times said on Tuesday citing people familiar with the research. China conducts a census every decade and finished its seventh survey in November last year. The National Bureau of Statistics of China planned to release the results early this month but suddenly postponed it as it requires more preparation. “The seventh census results will include more detailed information than the previous surveys,” Liu Aihua, a spokesperson at the National Bureau of Statistics, said at the press conference on April 16, reasoning the need of the further preparation.

Once the Chinese population falls below 1.4 billion, it will soon be overtaken by the second-most populated country in the world India with a population of 1.39 billion as it is practically impossible to stop population decrease with short-term measures. China implemented the one-child policy in 1978 to stop the drastic increase of its population. However, with a strong trend of falling birthrates, the government decided in 2016 to allow all couples to have two children instead of one. Even with the shift in the policy, the number of newborn babies in China has fallen for three consecutive years since 2017. Given the gradual decrease, there is a growing voice among Chinese experts stating that birth control policies should be removed completely. At the moment, couples who have three or more children are to pay a fine in China.


“China will adjust its population-related policies based on the recent census results,” Yi Fuxian, researching on China’s population issues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said recently to a Hong Kong-based media. “The family planning rules restricting births will fade into history.”

Ki-Yong Kim kky@donga.com