What does it mean that India’s population will pass China’s population?

India will soon have more people than China. What does that mean?

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The United Nations has said India’s population is projected to surpass China’s sometime this year. Many demographers estimate it could happen this month, if it hasn’t already. India’s population is expected to reach 1.429 billion by the end of the year, according to the U.N. China will fall to second place, with 1.426 billion people. Both dwarf the U.S. at a projected 340 million.

India’s rising population means it’s likely to keep its economy growing, buy more of the world’s goods and play a bigger role in global affairs, even as it grapples with poverty and a lack of jobs. 

China’s demographic headwinds will make it harder for the country to achieve its economic ambitions, or to supplant the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy, despite its rising wealth and military power…

India’s population is expected to keep growing for the next four decades, peaking at nearly 1.7 billion in 2063. China’s population, which declined last year for the first time since famines in the 1960s, according to government data, is projected to shrink rapidly. By the start of the next century, India’s population is expected to be double that of China’s.    

Numbers are just numbers; we give them significance. Is this just about large numbers and their ability to impress people? Here, two countries have nearly a billion and half people each. That is a lot of people and far ahead of the next most populous countries.

It could also be about being the country with the most people. This has been China for a while but will soon be India. Does having the most people provide an exalted status?

Or, is it about economic activity and growth. A large and growing population means economic opportunities internally and externally.

Yet, it could be more about growth than absolute numbers. Yes, it is important to be first in population but this is also about expected growth for India and a declining population in China. Not only will India be #1 in residents, it could be far ahead of China in population soon.

What this all adds up to is hard to say. India will be the most populous nation, China will be second. The population arrows will be headed in different directions. Does it mean a significant change in status and economic status? The number of people in each country may just play a role in this.

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