In addition, China, the world’s most populous country is expected to be overtaken by India in 2023. Moreover, by 2060 India’s population is projected to be nearly a half billion more than China’s, 1.7 billion versus 1.2 billion, respectively.
The major explanation behind the diversity in population growth rates is differing fertility levels. While the countries whose populations are projected to at least double by 2060 have fertility rates of four to six births per woman, those whose populations are projected to decline have fertility rates below two births per woman.
About two-thirds of the world’s population of 8 billion live in a country, including the three most populous China, India and the United States, where the fertility rate has fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. In addition, most of those populations have experienced low fertility rates for decades.
Also, many countries are experiencing fertility rates that are approximately half the replacement level or less. For example, the total fertility rate declined to 1.2 births per woman for China and Italy, 1.3 for Japan and Spain, with South Korea reaching a record low of 0.8 births per woman.
The population of some countries with below replacement fertility, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, are projected to continue growing due to international migration. However, if international migration to those countries stopped, their populations would begin declining in a few decades just like other countries with below replacement fertility levels.
In hopes of avoiding population decline, many countries are seeking to raise their fertility rates back to at least the replacement level. Among the countries with below replacement fertility close to two-thirds have adopted policies to increase their rates, including baby bonuses, family allowances, parental leave, tax incentives, and flexible work schedules.
Most recently, China announced new measures to raise its below replacement fertility rate by making it easier to work and raise a family. Those measures include flexible working arrangements and preferential housing policies for families, as well as support on education, employment, and taxes to encourage childbearing.