Being the world’s 5th largest economy and with such a diverse economy, India is set to reach new heights in the coming years. But the growing population of India is hindering this growth in terms of income and Gross National Product (GNP) per capita. This explosion in population happened post independence and is gradually increasing furthermore. At present, the population of India is 1.3 billion and according to the UN demographic trends, India will cross 1.9 billion by the end of this century. It took a long time for the Indian government and the citizens to become aware of the rapid growth of population and along with it the problems that would surely follow. There has been a general consensus that India is witnessing a demographic change, which is opening up new economic opportunities.
As a fast developing country that India is and over the course of its development, just as every country experiences fluctuation in its birth and death rates; India too is not lacking behind. Education plays a major role where birth is concerned, and on the other hand drop in death rate is all because of excellent healthcare. A demographic change is seen when there is a drop in fertility as well as death rates thus giving rise to working class population other than the dependents for their survival. This in turn creates a demographic dividend, due to higher levels of income, savings and productivity as a result of accelerated economic growth.
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From 1975-2010, India witnessed a huge jump in the population to such an extent that it almost doubled reaching a shocking 1.3 billion. Then a decade ago, India saw a shift with a deceleration in its population growth probably with a little upscale education and women empowerment, coupled with a number of other development such as the relatively improved health conditions, that in turn raised the bar of life expectancy bringing a much needed slowdown in birth rates and is continuing to do so in the coming years. The fertility rate in India has almost halved, with couples taking a conscious decision to have no more than two children. Also ads seen on television about family planning “Hum Do Hamare Do” was a clincher, realization dawning that we are heading for a major population explosion.
India is a vast country in terms of varied landforms with contrasting trends. Therefore, demographic transition can be seen at different levels and across different states. High fertility rate is concentrated mainly in the central and northern region like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and so the growth potential is high there. The same cannot be said for southern Indian states especially Kerala and Tamil Nadu where the workforce demographic trends will see a sharp dip and continue to do so in the coming years.
The total fertility rate (TFR) is a tool that helps in indicating the difference in levels of the demographic dividend. States showing high TFR implies their population will keep rising in the coming years and their demographic dividend shall rise too. A mere presence of labor is insufficient and cannot ensure high levels of growth and development and bring about a demographic change in business. Having said that, northern states showing the majority of the working-age population need to focus on essential policies, which shall further improve their productivity and bring in more job opportunities. This means great emphasis has to be put on child health and child marriages that are quite rampant in these states. Gender inequality, overall quality of education especially girl child education needs to be addressed.
Another important issue is the gender parity which is being followed till date. Sons are given more importance as compared to daughters. On the other hand, the states with a relatively low demographic window can encourage their women to join the workforce to up their economic development. Also the policy makers need to create a window on improving their social security and pension plans in order to support the senior family members as the number of dependents shall increase. As compared to other countries, India could benefit by increasing the labor force participation of women. Indian women have predominantly been working side by side with their spouses be it agriculture or industry.
With advanced scientific technologies, there has been a vast improvement in the health sector showing low mortality rate leading to change in a gradual pattern in the birth as well as death rate levelling off thus giving rise to a demographic evolution. Upon analyzing global population for the workforce, there was found to be a connection between population growth and economic development. This discovery resulted in the creation of the concept of global demographic transition. Thus a relatively low demographic window can encourage women to join the workforce to up their economic development. Age is another demographic element that impacts businesses. For example; a company’s products and services are more likely to appeal to certain age groups but not to all.
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In a nutshell, India is still struggling to create enough jobs for its ever-growing working-age population. Indian businesses have felt the need for skilled labor which should be looked into on an urgent basis. At the same time, the chiefs of Indian states on individual capacity can work on different policies to make labor regulations job friendly, invest in higher education and vocational training in order to reap the socio-economic benefits.
- “India is unprepared for a near future when it will be the world’s most populous country” by Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin on August 14, 2017
- “India’s Economy, Its Challenges, Opportunities, and Impact” by Kimberly Amadeo on February 27, 2020