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India’s population growth will come to an end: the number of children has already peaked

India will soon become the world’s most populous country as India’s population is predicted to surpass that of China within the next decade.

India’s population is expected to continue to grow until mid-century, reaching an estimated 1.68 billion in the 2050s as the chart below shows. But an important piece of evidence tells us that population growth will come to an end: The number of children in India peaked more than a decade ago and is now falling.

The chart here shows the population change since 1950 and the UN’s projections of population by age bracket. Here we see that the number of children under the age of five (under-5s) peaked in 2007; since then the number has been falling. The number of Indians under 15 years old peaked slightly later (in 2011) and is now also declining. These are landmark moments in demographic change.

India’s population will still continue to grow as a result of ‘population momentum’ – the effect often referred to by Hans Rosling and Gapminder as the ‘inevitable fill-up‘ when young generations grow older.1 But we can now see an end to population growth: reaching ‘peak child‘ anticipates the later ‘peak population’. The number of children has peaked; total population will follow and reach its peak in four decades.