Here is the world in 2050, as imagined by the U.S. Census Bureau: India will be the most populous nation, surpassing China sometime around 2025. The U.S. will remain exactly where it is now: in third place, with a population of 423 million . And declining birth rates in two of the world’s most economically and politically influential countries, Japan and Russia, will cause them to fall from their current positions as the 9th and 10th most populous nations, respectively, to 16th and 17th.
The findings are the result of population estimates and projections of 228 countries compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base . They offer a revealing look into the future. “One of the biggest changes we’ve seen has been the decline in fertility in some developed countries such as China,” says Loraine West , an IDB project manager, “while others are experiencing a slight increase.” In other words, China’s population boom is finally slowing down while Western Europe’s long-declining birth rate is in some places, at least rising again. Spain and Italy are “on an uptick,” says West, “but how high will [the birth rate] rise? Or will it simply fluctuate up and down on some long term level? We’ll have to see.” According to Italy’s The National Institute of Statistics, the country’s recent population increase can be largely attributed to its own immigrant population.