Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Demographic Dividend and Population Policy in India- Population Pyramid from an inverted triangle

Population Pyramid- Triangle
Population Pyramid- Triangle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Recent News articles are celebrating the development of the new Indian economy and more particularly the demographic dividend that India and China are enjoying. A number of leaders see this as an indication of a public policy success.

The demographic dividend is simply the historical fact that we are seeing in our life time. As the economies of the north are saddled with ageing populations, the big Asian economies are seeing their populations entering the job markets.

Can the public policy in India and the politicians take credit for this positive development? Does public policy have any contribution to make in this area? As we know the aggregate population in the nation is actually the reflection of family size decisions made a generation ago by each individual family. This provides the context to discuss the public policy angle of the demographic dividend.

A generation ago the emergency and the population policies of the then political class can be illustrated by the famous inverted triangle and the slogan that followed, We two ours one. This was the perfect strategy to reduce the population by half in a generations time. Why did this policy fail? Was this the lack of communication? The population policy of that time has been studied in depth and we can find studies on the diffusion of the means of population reduction. One of the earliest marketing PhDs from IIM Ahmadabad had done work on this.

The compelling view is that population policy in the 1980 and the 1990s has not succeeded to the extent that the government had wanted and by such failing has handed the demographic dividend.
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