Apr 24, 2023 - World

UN: India to overtake China as most populous nation by end of April

Crowds at a train station in Mumbai, India

Crowds at a train station in Mumbai last week. India is set to overtake China as the most populous country this month, UN projects. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

India will overtake China as the most populous country this month, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs said on Monday, offering the most definitive timeframe on when the shift will take place.

Why it matters: China has had the world's largest population since at least 1950, when the UN started tracking population data. China ceding that title to India is expected to have geopolitical, economic and social implications in the two countries and worldwide.

Details: By the end of April, India's population is expected to approach 1.426 billion people, matching and then surpassing the population of mainland China, the UN DESA said based on the UN's latest estimates and projections of the global population.

  • China in January reported its first population decline since 1961. There were 1.41175 billion people living in China at the end of 2022 — a decline of about 850,000 compared to the previous year's end, according to Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics.
  • The UN said in a report published last week that India's population will surpass China's by the middle of this year, adding that it's not possible to determine the exact date due to the “uncertainty” about the data coming from China and India. India has not had a census since 2011.

What's next: UN projections indicate that China's population could drop below 1 billion before the end of the century.

  • India's population is expected to continue growing for several decades.

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