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The world population is expected to reach 8 billion by November

New projections from the United Nations Department for Social and Economic Affairs show the world’s population is expected to reach 8 billion by November 15 – despite population growth at the slowest pace in decades and rates falling below 1 percent in 2020.

The agency’s World Population Prospects report, released Monday, projects that India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2023 — a change partly due to China’s aging population and history of birth control.

India introduced national family planning programs in 1952. Although these programs appear less successful in lowering birth rates compared to China’s one-child policy, the South Asian nation today has a mixed-age population, while China has a disproportionately older population.

“Distribution is really important,” said John Wilmoth, director of the population division at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “It’s a slower decline in growth that leads to a less abrupt change in the age distribution. In the end it could be to India’s advantage.”

According to the local census of India, the country’s population was 1.21 billion in 2011. The government had postponed the 2021 census because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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In the short term, the population of 61 countries around the world is projected to shrink by 1 percent or more by 2050, while the rest of the world is either stagnant or has a growing population.

However, population growth has been strikingly uneven, with just eight countries responsible for more than half of global population growth before 2050 – including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

Longer-term projections from the United Nations indicate that more countries are expected to peak in population growth over the course of the century before declining.

Other recent studies conducted by the United Nations have shown that by the end of the century Africa will be the only continent to experience population growth, with 13 of the world’s 20 largest urban areas projected to be located there.

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Given recent fertility declines, countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean will continue to be dominated by a large proportion of working-age people aged 25-64.

This shift, dubbed the “demographic dividend,” shows that countries are likely to experience accelerating per capita economic growth, although increasing numbers of aging residents could pose problems for places where access to health care is sparse, as the burden will fall on the working population. Senior citizens to take on the majority of the care for the elderly.

“Rapid population growth is making it more difficult to eradicate poverty, fight hunger and malnutrition, and improve health and education systems,” said Liu Zhenmin, United Nations under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs. “Conversely, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly around health, education and gender equality, will help reduce fertility rates and slow global population growth.”

The coronavirus is also contributing to the stagnant population growth.

According to the World Health Organization, 14.9 million people died from Covid-related problems from January 2020 to December 2021. Global life expectancy at birth fell from 72.8 to 71 years. Covid may also have caused short-term reductions in pregnancies and births. And with more restrictions on cross-border activities, migration rates have also fallen – a key driver of population growth in developed countries.