Jul 19, 2022 08:34 PM

Charts of the Day: China’s Population to Start Shrinking by 2023, UN Says

The world’s population is expected to reach 8 billion on Nov. 15, with India set to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year, according to the latest United Nations’ World Population Prospects report.

Released to coincide with World Population Day on July 11, the U.N. report said that the global population is projected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of around 10.4 billion in the 2080s. Population growth is expected to stabilize at this peak level until 2100.

While the latest data tamps down U.N. growth estimates from 2019, which said that the world population would reach about 11 billion by the end of this century, it also brings forward the time that India’s population would overtake China’s from 2027 to 2023.

Global population growth will be driven by Africa in the coming decades, the report adds. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania will account for more than half the rise in population expected by 2050. These eight countries are all located in Asia and Africa with per capita gross domestic product currently ranging from $608 to $3,926.

In a U.N. article, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said that the continuing rapid growth “makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.”

According to Caixin CEIC data, there are now 12 countries with a population of more than 100 million, namely China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Japan, the Philippines and Bangladesh. More than half of the countries are located in Asia.

Historic growth patterns

Since the end of the Great Famine and the Black Death in the 14th century, when the world’s population stood at around 370 million, the number of people has grown quickly. After the Second World War, the world population grew at an annual rate of more than 1.8%, which persisted until the 1970s.

The world population grew by 2.2% in 1963, reaching a historical peak. Since then, population growth rates have fluctuated, falling to 1.1% in 2011. Currently, the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen to less than 1% in 2020, according to the report.

More and more countries are experiencing population decline. In 2021, the average fertility of the world’s population stood at 2.3 births per woman over a lifetime, falling from about five births in 1950. While the global fertility rate is estimated to decrease to 2.1 births per woman by 2050, the level required for zero growth in the long run.

The latest census data (link in Chinese) showed that the total fertility rate in China had dropped to 1.3 in 2020, which is well below the replacement rate of 2.1. China’s National People’s Congress amended the Population and Family Planning Law to allow families to have up to three children last August.

China had a population of 1.412 billion in 2021, with a net increase of 480,000 people that year. The natural growth rate was as low as 0.34 per 1,000, falling below 1% for the first time.

“China is expected to experience an absolute decline in its population as early as 2023,” said the report.

Contact reporter Li Hang ( and editor Bertrand Teo (

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