RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- POPULATION BOON OR BANE?

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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- POPULATION BOON OR BANE?


Introduction:

            In just eight years, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country. According to estimates in a new United Nations report released on Monday, India is also expected to add 273 million people by 2050 and will remain the most populated until the end of the century. The report stated that in 2019, India has an estimated population of 1.37 billion and China 1.43 billion and by 2027, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s. The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.7 billion thirty years down the line. The report has highlighted higher fertility rates, growing older population and migration are few reasons for projections of the population growth. Health economists claim that the major implications of population growth will be increase in young and older population that will face a lack of resources in future.

Basics:

  • Population explosion is the sudden increase in the numbers of individuals in a community.
  • Lately we have been facing population explosion in many countries of the world. In the past 200-300 years, the world’s population has increased tremendously.
  • It is predicted that human population will increase by 1 billion in the next decade.
  • Population explosion results mainly due to difference between birth rates and death rates.
  • Whereas many people look at the population explosion as a problem or have negative perspective about it, several people also look at it as an huge opportunity for a nation to achieve it’s ambitions.

 

What is World Population Prospects 2019?

            The 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects is the twenty-sixth edition of the official United Nations population estimates and projections. It presents population estimates from 1950 to the present for 235 countries or areas, underpinned by analyses of historical demographic trends. This latest assessment considers the results of 1,690 national population censuses conducted between 1950 and 2018, as well as information from vital registration systems and from 2,700 nationally representative sample surveys. The 2019 revision also presents population projections to the year 2100 that reflect a range of plausible outcomes at the global, regional and country levels.

What is Demographic Dividend?

  • Demographic dividend, as defined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) means, “the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).”
  • In other words, it is “a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.”

Key findings from World Population Prospects 2019:

  • While the global population is still growing, some countries are experiencing a decrease in their total population. Virtually all countries are experiencing population ageing.
  • Around 2027, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country.
  • Largest increases in population between 2019 and 2050 will take place in– India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States of America.
  • Highlighted the higher fertility rates, growing older population and migration are few reasons for projections of the population growth.
  • However, the population of India in 2019 is 1.37 billion, which is 2.3 million (0.2%) less than the previous estimate from the 2017 revision. This decrease results from slightly lower levels of total fertility rate following the availability of new estimates from the 2015-2016 National Fertility and Health Survey (NFHS-4) and from the Sample Registration System (SRS) for 2016, and increased estimates of out-migration.
  • The population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to practically double by 2050.
  • World population is expected to increase by 2 billion by 2050 from 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion.
  • In countries like Bangladesh and Philippines out-migration plays a key in population change.
  • Many of the fast growing population are in the poorest countries.

Challenges:

  • TFR varies significantly across the socio-economic groups, it is concentrated among economically weaker section of the society which has implications on our SDGs, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, health, education etc.
  • Jobs are not created at the rate it should be and growth is uneven.
  • We have short window of opportunity, it is important to nurture and exploit this population growth to the best economic advantages is a challenge.
  • Challenge is how we raise India’s economic status from being low middle country to atleast high middle income.
  • Share of older people is rising rapidly, growth for older people is 70% from now to 2050 but total population is growing only by 56%.
  • The aspiration of the women and families have changed with time, they now want fewer children but lack access to family planning. This is evident from one report which says that there is 13% unwanted fertility in India.
  • Real challenge is quality of life, 21% of 60 plus population is suffering from chronic morbidities.
  • Unequal rate of population growth among states.

Way Forward:

  • It is very necessary to create growth momentum, investment should be adequately made in key infrastructure areas, social infrastructure and that to particularly education, water, and health.
  • Family planning is a preventive measure in bringing down maternal and child mortality rate.
  • China and Japan have controlled their population by various measures, the same can be adopted by us according to our suitability.
  • Proper healthcare facilities to women, education to girl child.

Analysts believe that India’s growing population can be a double-edged sword and the country needs to put in place the right policies to maximize the potential of its people by enhancing the state of education, health and infrastructure, so that India figures at better in various human development rankings.

It is imperative that policy-makers deal with the situation on multiple fronts. Universal education, value-added skills accretion and massive growth in employment in the formal sectors should be the key focus areas. Unfulfilled aspirations of the youth can quickly turn to frustration, leading to violent outbursts. There is also a need to engage with the youth and create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. Failure to do so would not just mean a missed opportunity in terms of harnessing the demographic dividend, but the ensuing rise in unemployment and poverty could undermine the advances made on the economic front and foment societal upheaval.