India to become most populous nation by 2023: Reading the figures

Source: This post is based on the article “India to become most populous nation by 2023: Reading the figures” published in the Indian Express on 19th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 – Population and associated issues.

Relevance: Population control policies.

News: The earlier UN reports in the middle of the Nineties projected that India’s population will be 1.53 billion in 2050 and maintained this till the first decade of the 21st century. But the latest United Nations report, “Population Prospects” forecasts that India will surpass China’s population by 2023.

Must read: The UN World Population Prospects Report and Population Issues in India – Explained, pointwise
What are some key insights into India’s population?

Population stabilisation: National Population Policy envisages that India’s population will stabilise in 2045. But, scholars and organisations have predicted that population stabilisation will take place below 1.6 billion by the mid-50s.

Distribution of the population by age: This plays a significant part in shaping future development dynamics. India’s large segments comprise the young and elderly, whose engagement in gainful economic activities is minimal. This shows India’s dependency ratios are high.

Dependency ratio: The World Bank data also shows that during 1960-2021, the dependency ratio declined from 75% to 55% globally. For India, the Bank has reported a figure of 48% in 2021. The latest PLFS survey has estimated the dependency ratio as much lower, at 44.3% only. The dependency tends to go up systematically till 2100.

Must read: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise
What is the link between dependency ratio and economic development?

Lower dependency implies an economic advantage to a nation. For instance, an economically active population produces dividends leading to intergenerational income transfers.

But the dependency ratio based on age structure alone can be misleading when a substantial portion of the working-age population is not economically active or in subsistence employment.

In the age group 15 to 64, India has just 55% reporting any kind of employment in India. Hence, India needs to find decent work for the working-age population, particularly women and socially marginalised groups.

Read more: Measures to control population in India
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