By SAM ROBERTS – The New York Times
Published: December 15, 2009
India will become the world’s most populous country in 2025, surpassing China, where the population will peak one year later because of declining fertility, according to United States Census Bureau projections released Tuesday.
The bureau suggests that the projected peak in China, 1.4 billion people, will be lower than previously estimated and that it will occur sooner. With the fertility rate declining to fewer than 1.6 births per woman in this decade from 2.2 in 1990, China’s overall population growth rate has slowed to 0.5 percent annually.
In contrast, India’s 1.4 percent growth rate is being driven by a fertility rate of 2.7 births per woman.
The bureau’s International Data Base projects that China’s labor force will peak at 831 million — 24 million more workers than today — in 2016. That is because the number of newcomers to the labor force in their early 20s is expected to start declining in 2011 after reaching 124 million.
In India, the number of new entrants to the labor force is expected to reach 116 million in 2024 before decreasing.
China and India alone account for 37 percent of the world’s population of about 6.8 billion. Every minute, the bureau’s estimates, 250 people are born worldwide and 107 die, for an increase of more than 75 million annually.
By the time the 21st century is a quarter over, the bureau estimates, the population of the United States will be more than 350 million. The United States fertility rate, about 2.1 births per woman, is higher than in most developed countries, in part as a result of higher birthrates among immigrants.
After China and India, the most populous countries are, in order, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and Japan.
The worldwide population estimates include more than 11 million people over the age of 90 and more than 326,000 centenarians.
More boys are being born than girls, but women begin to outnumber men among people in their late 40s.