(MENAFN- Asia Times) Early this year , India surpassed China as the most populcountry in the world, with the latter having 850,000 fewer people by the end of 2022, marking its first population decline since famine struck from 1959 to 1961 .
While this reduction may seem modest considering China's 1.4 billion population currently, an ongoing decline is anticipated, with UN projections suggesting that China's population could dwindle to below 800 million by 2100 .
Populations fluctuate through immigration, emigration, deaths and births. China's previone-child policy, enforced from 1980 to 2015, and the resulting gender imbalance slowed its birth rate. The Chinese government is now trying to boost birth rates , including by discouraging abortion.
The Malthusian population growth model , proposed in the 18th century, suggested that populations grow exponentially and outpace resource availability until inevitable checks, such as famine, disease, conflict, or other issues, cause it to drop.
During the high global population growth rates of the early 1960s , these concerns abounded. Yet around the world, population growth has slowed dramatically, and in China and many other countries, natural decline is already under way.
A 2020 study published in the Lancet medical journal found that based on current population trends, more than 20 countries are on track to halve their populations by 2100. The Pew Research think-tank, meanwhile, declared that 90 countries will see their populations decline by 2100, while the Center of Expertise on Population and Migration (CEPAM) predicts the global population will peak at 9.8 billion around 2070 to 2080 .
The fear of a shrinking and aging population looms over governments and economists alike. Increased payments toward pension and social welfare systems will strain a reduced labor force, while younger populations also contribute more to economic growth and innovation. Countries may also experience a reduction in their global influence, not least because of a smaller population available for military service .
Varimetrics gauge fertility and birth rates, but the total fertility rate (TFR), which measures the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime, is the most common. Yet achieving replacement-level fertility rates, typically 2.1 children per woman, has proved challenging.
The decline in global fertility rates can be attributed to societal and cultural shifts, family-planning initiatives, wider access to contraception, improved infant mortality rates, increased cost of child-rearing, urbanization, delayed marriages and childbirth due to educational and career pursuits, and social welfare systems reducing reliance on familial support.