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Population Pyramid

  • 27 Sep 2019
  • 3 min read

A population pyramid is a graphical representation of the age and sex composition of a specific population.

  • It consists of two histograms, one for each gender (by convention, men on the left and women on the right) where the numbers are shown horizontally and the ages vertically.
  • The numbers by gender and by age depend on interactions between fertility, mortality and migrations.
  • The shape of the pyramid and its variations over the years depend, above all, on the variations in fertility.
  • The pyramid can also assume a columnar shape (with vertical sides rather than sloped sides), or have an irregular profile.

India vis-a-vis China

  • India’s pyramid is bottom heavy i.e. the Indian population has a larger proportion of children, teenagers and young adults compared to China’s.
  • Population Distribution
    • India
      • The country’s population for the age cohorts of 0-4, 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 is roughly equal, whereas the numbers for older groups become progressively smaller.
      • This means that the country’s younger age groups have stopped growing in numbers now and are likely to shrink slightly soon.
      • This, however, does not mean that India’s population will also start shrinking soon.
      • Except for the oldest groups, India seems to have more males than females for every cohort.
    • China
      • The country’s largest cohort is in its late 40s, although it is more gender balanced than its younger cohorts, suggesting that sex-selective abortions are likely to have taken off in the last few decades.
  • Working Age Population
    • In 25-65 age group, India currently has around 650 million people and China 830 million.
    • By 2040, India is likely to reach 900 million, whereas China will have around 730 million.
    • In other words, India will go from having 180 million less working-age people than China today to about 170 million more—a net gain of a third of a billion in 20 years.

Way Forward

  • Just having people in the working age is not enough. How many are in the labour force and their productivity are important. The government needs to focus on the same.
  • India needs to invest more, and efficiently, in human capital and infrastructure.
    • For the former, investments in health and sanitation have to be sustained and more Public Private Partnership (PPP) models are required to ensure basic education.
    • For the latter, a bigger push for affordable rental housing in cities has to be considered, along with more investments in rail connectivity.

Source: Mint

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