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Changes in Demography

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Indian Society, Governance- Population and related issues, Geography

Source: Indian Express

Direction: Population and related issues can be asked under different themes in multiple papers. Moreover, India is said to surpass China in population is a significant change. Keep notes ready on demography



  • 2022: China will for the first time register an absolute decline in its population
  • 2023: India’s population, projected by the United Nationsto reach 1.428 billion, will surpass China’s 1.425 billion


What factors are behind this shift? 

  • Falling Mortality: Due to increased education levels, public health and vaccination programmes, access to food and medical care, and provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
  • Increasing life expectancy at birth: Between 1950 and 2020, it went up from 43.7 to 78.1 years for China and from 41.7 to 70.1 years for India.
  • A drop in fertility: It has slowed down population growth, ultimately resulting in absolute declines (in the case of China).
    • The total fertility rate (TFR) — the number of babies an average woman bears over her lifetime
    • A TFR of 2.1 is considered “replacement-level fertility”. Simply understood, a woman having two children basically replaces herself and her partner with two new lives. Since all infants may not survive to realise their reproductive potential, the replacement TFR is taken at slightly above two
    • India’s TFR is already below-replacement, but it will take a few generations for the absolute population to start declining
    • China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in 1991, which was almost 30 years before India’s

Chart 1 shows how sharply the TFR has fallen for India in the last three decades


Implications of these demographic changes:

  • For China:
    • Decline in prime working age population: It creates a vicious cycle wherein the number of working people to support dependent decreases but the number of dependents starts increasing
    • In response, China officially ended its one-child policy, introduced in 1980, in 2016.
  • India has an opportunity of reaping a demographic dividend’: the working-age population’s share in the overall population crossed 50% only in 2007 and will peak at 57% towards the mid-2030s (see Chart 2)
    • But reaping demographic dividend is contingent upon the creation of meaningful employment opportunities for a young population



Going forward, the challenge before India’s policymakers is to promote growth that generates jobs outside of agriculture. The surplus labour from farms should find employment in sectors — manufacturing and modern services — where productivity, value-addition and average incomes are higher. In the absence of such structural transformation, the “demographic dividend” could well turn into a “demographic nightmare

Population Control Measures- Background

Population control measures; – India was the first country in world to Introduce family planning in 1951, since then it introduced many measures to control population.

  • A population policy committee was established in 1952. However, the policies framed in the early fifties were largely arbitrary and so no successful.
  • In second five year plan, number of family planning clinics increased, but most of them were in urban areas so did not provide adequate results.
  • Government established a family planning department to and promoted adoption of copper –T during third five year plan.
  • 1976 Population policy; – its main features included
    • Increasing the minimum legal age of marriage for girls and boys to 18 and 21 respectively.
    • Monetary incentives for birth control.
    • Improving the literacy levels of females both through the formal and non-formal channels.
    • Forced sterilization was permitted, which was later on given up.
    • Population was made as a factor for sharing central resources with that of the states.
      • Linking 8% of the central assistance to the State Plans by weighing the performance of the states in the family welfare programmes.
  • In 1993, an expert group under the chairmanship of MS Swaminathan was constituted for formulation national population policy. It finally resulted into National Population Policy 2000, its main focus was
    • To bring the total fertility rate (TFR) to replacement level by 2010.
    • Achieve goal of population stabilization by 2045

Insta Links

Moving policy away from population control


Mains Links

Q. Despite the Consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (UPSC 2021)


Prelims Links

India is regarded as a country with “Demographic Dividend’’. This is due to– (UPSC 2011)

(a) Its high population in the age group below 15 years.

(b) Its high population in the age group of 15-­64 years.

(c) Its high population in the age group above 65 years.

(d) Its high total population.

Answers: B

This is due to- Its high population in the age group of 15-64 years (called working-age Population)