India as most populous can be more boon than bane

Source- The post is based on the article “India as most populous can be more boon than bane” published in “The Hindu” on 24th April 2023. Link

Syllabus: GS1- Population and associated issues

Relevance– Issue related to population growth, size and composition

News– India is projected to be the most populous country by mid-2023 by superseding China.

United Nation reports suggest that India will have a population of 142.86 crore by mid-2023. It is 2.9 million higher than China’s population of 142.57 crore.

What is the right perspective to look at the population of any country?

Population in itself is not a burden. The nature of population growth, size and its composition decide when a population becomes a “resource” or a “burden”. Population is a resource as long as the country’s carrying capacity is intact.

Carrying capacity is not just per capita availability of natural resources. It is a dynamic concept which changes according to changing technology, the efficiency of production and consumption systems of a country.

There is a need to look at the age composition of the population. It tells us about available support ratios in the form of the number of the working age population (15-64 years) against the dependent population.

What are the key mechanisms to translate a demographic bonus into economic dividend?

Employment or job creation is an important mechanism to translate demographic bonus to economic dividend.

Education, skills generation and healthy lifespan are important to translate demographic opportunity into economic gains. A skilled and healthy workforce is critical not only for better productivity of an economy. It also reduces excessive public spending and helps in greater capital creation.

Good governance is another important aspect for reaping demographic dividends. It helps in creating a healthy environment for increasing efficiency and productivity of the population.

What are the trends of population growth, size and composition?

India had a total fertility rate of 2.0 in 2023. It is already at replacement level fertility. The population is on a path toward stabilization.

It is in decelerated mode until 2064, when it will become negative growth. The peak of India’s population size will be around 169.6 crore in 2063.

There are greater prospects for demographic dividend than a disaster in India. It has 68% of the working age population in 2023. The country continues to have a demographic window of opportunity for the next 35 years to reap an economic dividend.

How is demographic dividend helpful for India?

A relatively younger population of India provides higher support ratios. There is lesser disease, disability and caring burden.

India’s opportunity must be looked at in comparison to the population decline and ageing across some countries that include Japan, China, the United States and other major economies. Most of them have been implementing policies to improve birth rates. However, these actions are largely ineffective.

India has the potential to become a worldwide market for both production and consumption, with lower manufacturing costs due to a relatively cheaper workforce.

Available demographic opportunity has the potential to boost per capita GDP by an additional 43% by 2061.

A total fertility rate of less than 1.8 may not be economically beneficial for India. Therefore, drastic population control methods can induce forced population ageing. It would result in the nation “getting old before getting rich”.

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