Prepare now, India's population won't be a demographic dividend forever

India's average age is still around 28, compared to 38 in China or 47 in Germany. But, as we have seen with China, those numbers can change more rapidly than expected

Mihir Sharma | Bloomberg
human development index

India is now the world’s largest country by population — or, at least, it will be at some point during 2023. While this shift has been a long time coming, it arrived sooner than anyone expected because China’s population appears to have begun shrinking in advance of projections.
Undivided India and China have vied across history for the population crown. The partition of India in 1947 appeared to put China permanently ahead in the numbers game. But India’s new position will likely last into mid-century and beyond. The Lancet’s projections for population in 2100 suggest India will still have over a billion people, while China will have slipped to third position, with 730 million inhabitants to Nigeria’s 750 million.
Moreover, this shift of demographic weight from East and Northeast Asia to the south is likely permanent. A UN report points out that in 1980, 42% of Asians lived in East Asia; that proporti

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First Published: Jan 25 2023 | 7:32 AM IST

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