Demographic Dividend or National Burden?
My demographer friends talk about India’s “demographic dividend” because almost half of Indian population is below 25 years of age. If properly educated, nurtured and trained, this young workforce could simply transform India beyond recognition in the coming decades and eradicate poverty of hundreds of millions. Indian economy is already growing at the annual rate of 8 – 9 per cent for several years now and can be further boosted if more and more of the young blood joins the workforce.
In the same breath, however, they also view India’s large population as a problem. Estimated at 1.21 billion in 2010, Indian population is growing at the rate of 1.41 percent per year. It means about 17 million people are added annually or about 42,500 per day.
Fifty years ago, average number of children per family was almost six and now it is half of that, but the population is still growing. Currently, the national fertility rate is 2.75; for population stabilization it should be around 2.1 (China’s current fertility rate is 1.77). Population stabilization is achieved when, on an average, every woman gives birth to just one girl. Statistically, it means she bears just two children so that one is a girl. But to account for child mortality even in good healthcare system the total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1 is prescribed rather than 2.0. In India, child mortality is still somewhat high (though decreasing with improvement in healthcare system), so even a national TFR value around 2.4 is good enough to stabilize the population.