Counting All Indians

India's newly released census figures have revealed that the country's population has grown faster over the last ten years than previously anticipated. With the country now home to more than 1.2 billion people, we wonder: India's population increase over the last decade is equal to the entire population of which country?

A. Germany
B. Russia
C. Pakistan
D. United States

A. Germany is not correct.

The population of Germany is 82 million, making it the world's 16th-most-populous country. India's population increased by far more than that over the last ten years.

Indeed, India's population increase over the last decade is larger than the entire populations of all but a handful of countries. At present, roughly an entire Germany is added to the global population each year.

B. Russia is not correct.

Russia's population is 140 million, making it the world's ninth-most-populous country. More Indians were added to the country's population over the past ten years than live in all of Russia today.

India's population has grown by 17.6% in the past decade. This growth, as rapid as it is, is actually slower than during the 1990s, when India's population grew by 21.5%.

In contrast, Russia has seen its population decline over the past two decades — from 148 million in 1990 to 140 million today. One major reason for the differing trajectories is the disparity between the countries' fertility rates, with India's standing at 2.5 children per woman, compared with just 1.5 in Russia.

C. Pakistan is correct.

Compared to ten years ago, India's population, currently at 1.21 billion, expanded by 181 million people — close to the entire population of neighboring Pakistan. With 189 million people, Pakistan is the world's sixth-most-populous country.

India's population increase is also within striking distance of the entire population of Brazil, which stands at 197 million people. While Brazil's population is set to peak around 2040, the population of India may not level off until 2065.

D. United States is not correct.

The current population of the United States is 311 million people. While the number of Indians added to the world population over the past decade is well short of the U.S. population, between now and 2035, the population of India is expected to increase by 313 million — or more than the current U.S. population.

By 2030, India is projected to displace China as the world's most populous nation. At present, China has 130 million more people than India — or roughly the current population of Japan, which is 127 million.

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