The Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (both positions are held by the same person) oversees an ongoing intercensal effort to help maintain accurate annual estimates of population. The projection method used in the mid-1980s to predict the 1991 population, which was accurate enough to come within 3 million (843 million) of the official, final census count in 1991 (846 million), was based on the Sample Registration System. The system employed birth and death rates from each of the twenty-five states, six union territories, and one national capital territory plus statistical data on effective contraceptive use. Assuming a 1.7 percent error rate, India's projection for 1991 was close to those made by the World Bank and the UN.
Projections of future population growth prepared by the Registrar General, assuming the highest level of fertility, show decreasing growth rates: 1.8 percent by 2001, 1.3 percent by 2011, and 0.9 percent by 2021. These rates of growth, however, will put India's population above 1.0 billion in 2001, at 1.2 billion in 2011, and at 1.3 billion in 2021. ESCAP projections published in 1993 were close to those made by India: nearly 1.2 billion by 2010, still considerably less than the 2010 population projection for China of 1.4 billion. In 1992 the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau had a similar projection to ESCAP's for India's population in 2010 and projected nearly 1.4 billion by 2025 (nearly the same as projected for 2025 by the United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs). According to other UN projections, India's population may stabilize at around 1.7 billion by 2060.
Such projections also show an increasingly aging population, with 76 million (8 percent of the population) age sixty and above in 2001, 102 million (9 percent) in 2011, and 137 million (11 percent) in 2021. These figures coincide closely with those estimated by the United States Bureau of the Census, which also projected that whereas the median age was twenty-two in 1992, it was expected to increase to twenty-nine by 2020, placing the median age in India well above all of its South Asian neighbors except Sri Lanka.
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