NEW DELHI: India’s much-discussed “demographic dividend” continues to swell, with the share of working-age population in the country’s total population increasing, data from the recently released Sample Registration System’s 2018 report shows.
This is true not just nationally but across all major states. The SRS report, an annual publication from the office of the census commissioner and registrar general, estimates that in 2018, nearly two-thirds of the population, or 66%, was between 15 and 59. This proportion has inched up each year, an analysis of reports from 2013 onwards shows.
Those of working age constituted over two-thirds of the population in 12 of the 22 major states in 2018 while five years earlier, this was true in only four of the current states. Two states — Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — had over 70% of their populations in the working-age bracket and Bihar was the lone state in which they were less than 60% of the total.

In general, states widely considered less developed had a lower proportion of their population in the working-age groups. This is because most of these states have also had relatively high fertility rates and hence a relatively larger base of the really young. Among the states with high development indicators, Kerala stands out as an exception with its working-age population being of a similar proportion as in states like Assam and Odisha.
The difference however is that in Kerala’s case, this is due to a relatively larger proportion of the elderly thanks to decades of low fertility and high life expectancy.

Another broad trend that emerges from the data is that states that already have higher proportions of working-age populations have seen that share grow faster than the others. Thus, those that started off with a better “demographic dividend” five years ago now have even more of it.
Experts have pointed out that this dividend, which comes from the number of dependants on each working person being low, will not last for ever.


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