China, India population growth: Implications


    In News 

    Recently,the United Nations said that the global population had reached 8 billion


    • 2022 and 2023 will see two landmark demographic events. 
      • In 2022, China will for the first time register an absolute decline in its population. 
      • in 2023, India’s population, projected by the United Nations to reach 1,428.63 million, will surpass China’s 1,425.67 million.

    Primary drivers of population change.

    • Mortality: Mortality falls with increased education levels, public health and vaccination programmes, access to food and medical care, and provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. The crude death rate (CDR) — the number of persons dying per year per 1,000 population — was 23.2 for China and 22.2 for India in 1950.
      •  It fell to single digits for China first in 1974 (to 9.5) and for India in 1994 (9.8), and further to 7.3-7.4 for both in 2020.
    • Reduction in mortality normally leads to a rising population. A drop in fertility, on the other hand, slows down population growth, ultimately resulting in absolute declines. 
    • Fertility:  The total fertility rate (TFR) — the number of babies an average woman bears over her lifetime — was as high as 5.8 for China and 5.7 for India in 1950.
    • the TFR has fallen for India in the last three decades and the fall was especially significant in the rural areas and China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in 1991, which was almost 30 years before India’s.
      • The TFR is the average number of births by women aged 15-49 based on surveys for a particular period/year. Populations can keep growing even with TFRs falling. 
        • De-growth requires TFRs to remain below replacement levels for extended periods. The effects of that — fewer children today becoming parents tomorrow and procreating just as much or less — may reflect only after a couple of generations.

    The Potential implications 

    • Crisis for china: The real crisis for China is the decline in its population that is of prime working age. 
      • the share of China’s working-age population is projected to fall below 50% by 2045. 
        • In short, China faces the prospect of a dwindling labour force having to support a rapidly ageing population.
    • India has an opportunity: India has just begun seeing fertility rates fall to replacement levels, including in rural areas. The latter has to do with the spread of education — and, perhaps, also farm mechanisation and fragmentation of landholdings. 
      • Reduced labour requirements in agricultural operations and smaller holdings make it that much less necessary to have large families working the land.
      • But even with the fertility rate declines, India’s population is projected to expand and de-grow only after touching 1.7 billion about 40 years from now.
        •  More important is the working-age population: its share in the overall population crossed 50% only in 2007, and will peak at 57% towards the mid-2030s .
      • In absolute terms, the population aged 20-59 years will increase from 760 million in 2020 to nearly 920 million in 2045. 
    • Overall then, India has a window of opportunity well into the 2040s for reaping its “demographic dividend”, as China did from the late 1980s until 2015.
      •  That is, of course, contingent upon the creation of meaningful employment opportunities for a young population.
    • The share of the workforce in agriculture has slowed: agriculture accounted for around 65% of the country’s employed labour force in 1993-94. That share fell significantly to 49% by 2011-12.
      •  But the trend has slowed, if not reversed, thereafter.

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • Going forward, the challenge before India’s policymakers is to promote growth that generates jobs outside of agriculture. These mustn’t merely be in construction and low-paid informal services. 
    • The surplus labour from farms should find employment in sectors — manufacturing and modern services — where productivity, value-addition and average incomes are higher.
    • We must focus on investing in each person to achieve a quality of life that allows them to thrive equally and with dignity in our modern world, building inclusive societies and sustainable economies in the face of overlapping crises.
      •  In the absence of such structural transformation, the “demographic dividend” could well turn into a “demographic nightmare”.

    Mains Practice Question 

    [Q] Do you agree that Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult?