According to recent studies, India is set to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation by as early as 2024. In a country where 25 percent of the population is already living on less than $2 a day, many fear the growing population will only make the poverty situation worse.
Although rapid population growth does not necessarily cause poverty, there is a clear connection between high fertility rates and poverty. In developing countries with high fertility rates, life expectancy and per capita income (two important indicators of well being) typically remain low.
The good news is that fertility rates in India have dropped significantly as of late, down to 2.2 births per woman. Yet the population is still growing at the world’s fastest rate at nearly 15 million people per year. Whatever measures are taken to combat overpopulation in India, it remains clear that overpopulation is a pressing issue with far-reaching implications on the environment, poverty and health. The following are 10 facts regarding overpopulation in India.
10 Facts About Overpopulation in India
- According to U.N. estimates, India’s current population of 1.32 billion is projected to reach 1.8 billion by 2050.
- Indians account for nearly one-sixth of the global population and one in three people living in global poverty, according to statistics from Yale University.
- The fertility rate of Indian women has more than halved over the last 40 years, down to 2.2 births per woman. Falling fertility rates are important in that they typically correspond with rising life expectancy and quality of life.
- Around 31 percent of Indians currently live in urban areas, but that number is projected to climb to near 50 percent (830 million people) by 2050.
- Currently, India is home to five megacities; this number is slated to increase to seven by 2030. A megacity is a city of more than 10 million people.
- Delhi is projected to remain the second most populous city in the world in 2030, adding 9.6 million inhabitants in that time.
- While only 300,000 men agreed to vasectomies in 2008-09, more than 5.5 million women agreed to use an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCDs) to avoid pregnancy. These procedures are sponsored by the government to promote population control.
- The number of married women who regularly use contraceptives has gone up from 13 percent in 1970 to 48 percent in 2009.
- Indians have added almost a decade to their life expectancy in the past 25 years, with average life expectancy up to 69 years.
- India registered 90,000 fewer infant deaths in 2016 as compared to 2015.
Although the statistics can appear staggering, there is still reason to be optimistic. In India, trends in women’s education, fertility rates and quality of life have all shown improvements in recent history. This is important since improvements in these areas all correspond to decreasing poverty and population levels.
Furthermore, since countries with higher levels of income, education and access to health care typically have lower birth rates, experts are beginning to urge the government to focus on the development of these areas. Others are advocating for a government enforced family planning strategy, much like China’s one-child policy.
There is certainly overpopulation in India, but with awareness of the issue and sustained efforts to combat it, both poverty and population can be brought under control.
– Taylor Pace