Population growth and economic power in India

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Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : Southern and Eastern Asia
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Population growth and economic power in India




India housed 1.21 billion people in 2010. Is this huge population a burden or an asset for an economic power?

1 Demographic transition in India (1947-2010)

A More than 1 billion people in 2000

 When the British colony gained independence in 1947, India’s population was a mere 350 million. Since then, it has more than tripled.

 The population growth rate was really high (more than 2%) during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It began to fall in the 1980s, with the introduction of family planning policies. The growth rate has slowed down further to 1.5% since 2000.

 This decrease of population growth rate is called stage three of demographic transition.

B A burden* for the economy

 From 1947 to 1990, the presence of many children required more resources for food, clothing, housing, medical care, and schooling. Those resources had to be diverted* from building factories, establishing infrastructures, and investing in research.

 This diversion of resources slowed economic growth. Thus, India’s GDP per capita increased at only 1% annualized of rate.

2 A young and growing population

A India, the world’s most populous country in 2030

 India is the second most populous country in the world, more than 17.5% of the world’s population.

 India’s population is currently growing at a rate of 1.4% per year, far surpassing China’s rate of 0.7%. This differential will result in India’s population size overtaking China’s in less than 20 years.

B An asset for the economy

 However, the Indian’s GDP per capita has soared* from $457 in 2000 to $1,499 in 2013. One of the main reasons may be the change in the ratio of the working-age population (15-64 years old) to the non working-age (under 15 and over 64 years old).

 The high burden of youth dependency disappeared in the 2000s and became an asset of young and working people.

 After 2020, India is expected to reach the highest working-age ratio ever seen in South Asia and to have the best GDP growth rate.

3 Conciliating human development and economic growth

A Poverty in India

 Unfortunately, the economic performance has not been sufficient to reduce poverty amongst the Indian population. India’s HDI value for 2012 is 0,554 (136th out of 187 countries), which is worse than other BRICS countries.

Malnutrition is a plague: one out of every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.

 Moreover, India has the largest population of illiterate adults (287 million), even if India’s literacy* rate rose from 48% in 1991 to 63% in 2006. The number of illiterate adults remains unchanged because of population growth.

B Towards a new human development policy

 The Indian policy-makers will strengthen investments in education and health – for females and males of all income levels and castes. According to the World Bank, the annual growth of population requires the opening of 66,000 primary schools and 3,000 health centres every year.

 This international institution promotes female literacy and contraceptive methods to reduce the fertility rate. It seems human development goes hand in hand with lower population growth and a better economic progress.

  • a burden = un fardeau
  • diverted = dévié
  • literacy = alphabétisation
  • to soar = s’envoler