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China And India Demographic Paths Essay

2510 words - 11 pages

Research Brief


China and India
The Asian Giants Are Heading Down Different Demographic Paths


hina and India, the world’s most populous nations, have much in common: Each has more than 1 billion residents; each has sustained an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate over the past decade that is among the world’s ...view middle of the document...

Contrasting Demographic Trajectories

Two differences between China’s and India’s demographic paths bear most directly on each country’s future prospects: trends in population growth and changes in population age distribution.
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India’s Population Is Growing More Rapidly Than China’s India’s population is currently smaller than China’s, but its current rate of population growth (1.55 percent annually) is more than double China’s (0.66 percent). In 2025, India’s total population is projected to equal China’s (about 1.4 billion in each country) and to surpass China’s thereafter, making India the world’s most populous nation. India’s population is expected to continue increasing through at least 2050, whereas China’s is expected to peak at about 1.4 billion in 2026 and to decline thereafter (Figure 1). These contrasting growth rates are driven primarily by differences in fertility. China’s fertility rate has been lower than India’s for many years, in part because of China’s One-Child Policy. In

2010, the total fertility rate in India was estimated at 2.65 children per woman, compared with 1.54 in China. This difference means that, on average, each Indian woman is currently having, over the course of her lifetime, more than one more child than each Chinese woman is. Total fertility rates in India are expected to decrease very gradually to “replacement level”—the level needed for population stabilization in the long run (approximately 2.1 children per woman)—by 2035 (Figure 2). By contrast, the total fertility rate in China has been below replacement level since 1991. China’s Population Is Older Than India’s and Is Beginning to Age Rapidly The two countries’ population-age distributions also differ substantially and are undergoing


Figure 1 Total Population Sizes, China and India, 2000–2035
1.5 1.4 Population (billions) 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.0 0.9 2000 2010 2020–2025

Figure 2 Total Fertility Rates, China and India, 2000–2035
3.5 Number of children per woman 3.0 2.5
Replacement level


2020–2025 China India

2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035

China India








Year SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, 2010.

Year SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, 2010.

significant change. Because of China’s declining fertility, the average age of its population is higher than India’s. As shown in Figure 3, in 2010 China’s largest age cohorts consisted of people aged 20–24, 35–39, and 40–44. By contrast, India’s age structure more closely resembles the classic “pyramid” shape, in which the youngest cohort is...

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