Edukemy Kosmos

Changing population dynamics and associated concerns

Changing population dynamics and associated concerns


  •  In news: World population to hit 8 bn, India to cross China to become most populous nation in 2023 as per United Nation’s World Population Prospects 2022 (WPP) report.


    • As per UN world’s population has reached 8 billion on November 2022.
    • It attributed the rise in population to a gradual increase in human lifespan due to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene, and medicine and due to improved fertility levels.
    • Population growing at slower pace: In 2020, the global growth rate fell under 1% per year for the first time since 1950.
    • As per UN it took 12 years for the global population to go from 7 billion to 8 billion, it will take around 15 years until 2037 for it to reach 9 billion. Its latest projections further stated that the world population could grow to nearly 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.4 billion in 2100. 
    • In 2021, the average fertility of the world’s population stood at 2.3 births per woman over a lifetime and projected to decline further to 2.1 by 2050.
    • The global life expectancy at birth has increased by 9 years between 1990 and 2019 to reach 72.8 years. However, this number fell to 71 years in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Regional variations: Growth and distribution of world population:

  • Demographic attributes around the world:

  • India’ changing demographic structure:
    • At the third stage of the demographic transition, and experiencing a slowing growth rate, India has 17.5% of the world’s population.
    • As per the latest WPP, India will reach 150 crore by 2030 and 166 crore by 2050. Population stability is expected to be achieved no later than 2064 and is projected to be at 170.
    • Life expectancy at birth was 70 years in 2019.
    • The infant mortality rate declined to 27 in 2020. The under-five mortality rate fell to 41, and the maternal mortality ratio dropped to 103 in 2019.
    • India reached a significant demographic milestone as its TFR slipped to 2, below the replacement level fertility (2.1), as per the NFHS.
    • However, even after reaching the replacement level of fertility, the population will continue to grow for three to four decades owing to the population momentum.
    • The disease pattern in the country has also seen a tremendous shift in these 75 years: there has been a transition towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the cause of more than 62% of total deaths.
    • As per WPP 2022, India will have one of the largest workforces globally, i.e., in the next 25 years, one in five working-age group persons will be living in India.
    • However, there are several obstacles to harnessing this demographic dividend:
      • Gender disparity in workforce: India’s labour force is constrained by the absence of women from the workforce; only a fourth of women are employed.
      • Skill gaps: country’s workforce lacks the basic skills required for the modernised job market.
      • One of the world’s lowest employment rates is another enormous hurdle in reaping the ‘demographic dividend’.
      • India’s health-care infrastructure is highly inadequate and inefficient.
  • As the Indian population gradually surpasses China, India should work towards enhancing the lives of its current and future citizens and address challenges plaguing its economy. Demographic dividend needs to be strengthened, for which India must invest in the education and health of its workforce.
  • Changing dynamics of world population:

  • Concerns associated:
    • Vicious cycle of population growth and poverty- Rapid growth of a country’s population can exacerbate the challenge of eradicating poverty (SDG 1), potentially trapping communities in a vicious cycle: while economic growth may struggle to keep pace with population growth, poverty can deprive individuals of opportunities and choices, limiting their ability to control their fertility, perpetuating high levels of childbearing often starting early in life and ensuring the continued rapid growth of the population.

Case study: In Madagascar, the population has been growing at a rate of about 3 per cent per year for several decades. The country remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 70 per cent of its people living below the international poverty line.

    • Resource-population mismatch- Countries where fertility levels remain high should prepare to meet the needs of growing numbers of children and young people: Many countries are projected to double in population between 2022 and 2050, putting additional pressure on resources and posing challenges to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
    • Compromised social well being: Expanding educational opportunities and ensuring quality education for all can be particularly challenging for low- and lower-middle income countries with growing cohorts of children and youth.

Example: In sub-Saharan Africa, the completion rate of upper secondary education increased only 3.4 percentage points, from 23.3 per cent to 26.7 per cent, during the past decade, leaving that region furthest behind.

    • If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.
  • Opportunity associated with growing population:
  • Youthful age structure lead to overall dependency ratios fall, making more resources available to increase investments in education, health, employment, social protection, pension schemes, etc., thereby fostering short and medium-term economic growth and well-being.
    • Countries that are still at an early stage of the demographic transition have an opportunity to maximize the benefits of the dividend by investing in human capital formation.
    • A sustained drop in fertility leads to an increased concentration of the population at working ages, creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth per capita.
    • In most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, the share of population at working ages (between 25 and 64 years) has been increasing in recent times. This shift in the age distribution provides a time-bound opportunity for accelerated economic growth known as the “demographic dividend”.
  • Impact of covid pandemic on population dynamics of the world

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all components of population change, including fertility, mortality and migration:

    • Global life expectancy at birth fell to 71.0 years in 2021, down from 72.8 in 2019, due mostly to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted all forms of human mobility, including international migration.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities in access to quality education, negatively affecting the learning and well-being of millions of children and youth worldwide. As a result, past increases in school completion rates may slow or even reverse depending on the duration of full or partial school closures.
    • Way forward:
    • Need to invest in the further development of their human capital by ensuring access to health care and quality education at all ages and by promoting opportunities for productive employment and decent work.
    • Countries with ageing populations should take steps to adapt public programmes to the growing proportion of older persons, including by improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems and by establishing universal health care and long-term care systems.
    • Promoting life-long learning and silver economy: A system of manufacturing, distributing, and consuming goods and services known as the "Silver Economy" makes advantage of the purchasing power of older and more senior individuals to satisfy their demands for consumption, housing, and healthcare.

Case study:  Case Study of Active Aging through Lifelong Learning in South Korea

Evening schools in Korea are non-formal schools outside the public education system to provide education to middle age and older youths. Since the 2000s, the number of older adult learners has increased, with adults in their 50s and older accounting for the majority (71.7%) of evening school students. As of 2020, there were 45 evening schools in Korea, and the average number of students per institution was 56.

  • All countries should take actions to tackle climate change and protect the environment, more developed countries—whose per capita consumption of material resources is generally the highest—bear the greatest responsibility for implementing strategies to decouple human economic activity from environmental degradation.
  • Ensuring that individuals, in particular women, have the ability to decide the number of children that they will have and the timing of their births can markedly improve well-being and help to disrupt intergenerational cycles of poverty.

Arsene Dumont established a connection between upward “social mobility” and low fertility. According to his idea of social capillarity, in a modern society, the smaller the size of one's family, the higher one's social climbing opportunities. Similarly JS Mill held that population control was essential for improving the standard of living and was an active supporter of birth control to curb population growth. Thus, to end poverty and hunger, achieve the SDGs related to health, education and access to decent work, sustainable population growth is the key.

Where can we use it:

  • Geography optional- paper1 (Growth and distribution of world population; Demographic attributes, world population problems and policies) and paper2 (Demographic attributes).
  • GS: paper1 (Population and Associated Issues).









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