When this century ends, India may no longer be a country of a billion, says a projection that appears in the online edition of the Lancet on Wednesday.

At the current rate of growth, India’s population is likely to peak by 2047 at about 1.61 billion and then decline to 1.03 billion by 2100. However, were it to meet UN Sustainable Goal Development targets, the peak would be earlier and see a population decline to 929 million.

Data: Is India facing population explosion as the Prime Minister claimed?

Conventional wisdom is that though a decline in population is expected, it is expected to begin only around 2046 and that fall, according to the latest 2019 assessment by the United Nations Development Programme calculation, is expected to see India’s population settle at a little over 1.4 billion, though this too ranges from 2.1-0.9 billion

Access to contraception

The sharper fall, say the group of scientists who are affiliated to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, is due to the assumption that all women globally will have have much higher access to contraception and education.

This scenario will lead to a sharper reduction in the Total Fertility Rate, a metric that shows on average how many children a women must have to keep replenishing population. A TFR lower than 2.1, it is said, leads to a decline in a country’s population.

The UNPD forecasts assume that all countries mirror the trend in selected low-fertility countries in Europe, east and southeast Asia, and North America, where the TFRs converge towards a level of approximately 1·75.

India’s population grew at 1.2 % average annual rate between 2010 and 2019: UN report

“In our model, in a population where all females have 16 years of education and 95% of females have access to contraception, the global TFR was projected to converge to 1·41 (1·35–1·47). The difference between a convergent TFR of 1·75 or 1·41 is profound,” the scientists say in their paper.

Seen this way, they argue, world population is expected to peak by 2061 at 9.73 billion and by 2100 reach 8.79 billion. The UNDP forecasts about 10.8 billion at this time.

5 most populated

India will, however, remain the most populous country. The five largest countries in 2100 (are projected) to be India, Nigeria, China, the U.S. and Pakistan.

However, these forecasts showed different future trajectories between countries. “Nigeria is forecast to have continued population growth through 2100 and was expected to be the second most populous country by then. The reference forecasts for China and India peaked before 2050 and both countries thereafter had steep declining trajectories,” the study added.

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