Demographic Changes In India: Is The Country Prepared For The Challenge?
James, K. S., & Goli, S. (2016). Demographic changes in India: Is the country prepared for the challenge. Brown J. World Aff., 23, 169.
19 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2021
Date Written: April 21, 2016
Globally, India is uniquely important due to the sheer size of its population and the unorthodox trajectory of its changing character. With a population of more than 1.3 billion, it contains nearly 18 percent of the global population and is expected to surpass China (population of 1.38 billion in 2015) within the next six years to become the most populous country in the world. Interestingly, during the first census after India’s independence in 1947, the population of India was only 68 percent of that of China. It is now as high as 95 percent. According to 2015 estimates, the population of China is increasing by approximately 7 million people per year while the population of India increases by about 16 million per year. While India is the seventh largest economy in the world, its rank acutely falls to 140 and 129 based on per capita income and per capita purchasing power parity (PPP) figures respectively. The salience of India’s growing population is undeniable, but the country is also rapidly transitioning per many other demographic metrics. A country’s population significantly impacts its development, and its population is affected in turn by how it develops. It has been well recognized that population size, structure, and composition have a critical—although not deterministic—impact on economic development. This paper argues that while demographic change offers significant opportunities for economic transformation in India, the unique nature of this demographic change will simultaneously create its own challenges. Unless these challenges are seriously addressed, demographic changes in the country may not yield their anticipated benefits. In this context, the paper reviews trends in Indian population size and the drivers of population change, arguing that these changes are unique and unconventional as compared to the experience of Western countries. Moreover, it speculates on the opportunities and challenges India is bound to face given the unconventional character of its demographic changes.
Keywords: Demography, Demographic Transition, Population Change, India
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