Will China's and India's populations outgrow their capabilities?
Comparing population trends in China and India to those in Canada
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The two most populous nations on Earth comprise presently a little more than one-third
of the world's population.
Demographers always feared that the capabilities of these two countries to
maintain themselves and to prevent themselves from starving to death due to unchecked
population growth was becoming exhausted.
Many people still believe today that to be a serious concern. However,
the problems faced by China and India in the next few decades will be quite different from
what most people expect.
Both countries will be facing a population calamity of unprecedented
proportions. Not having the massive but rapidly shrinking wealth of the western
nations, the two countries will face a problem they never before had to worry about, but a
problem of their own making. Increasingly the same problem is affecting more and
more countries, but nowhere will its impact be felt on such a large scale as in China and
Both countries have entered the era of zero-population growth. In
consequence they will lose over the next few generations what had proved over the
millennia to be the most secure and most efficient social safety net in the existence of
humanity, their families. More correctly and collectively, they'll lose the steady
renewal of the working and productive population sector.
China and India will
face a triple jeopardy.
Their birth rates have approached total fertility rates that are
insufficient to maintain population levels,
Their productive, employable population sectors will shrink to less than
two-thirds of their population, meaning that even if all people of working age were to be
gainfully employed, they would have to support at least a third (and growing) of their
population that is not yet or no longer capable of working.
There won't be the required wealth to maintain the standard of living
that people have become accustomed to. That means that many who presently live
at or barely above starvation quite simply will starve to death.
Not the least of the reasons will be that elderly people will have no younger children to
care for them, while the state will be unable to do so on account of insufficient
financial resources to do it with. Besides, all the money in the world will not be
able to buy labour from people that don't exist or exist in insufficient numbers, the
Pictures say more than a thousand words. Have a look at projections
for the population distributions for China and India, for the years 2000, 2025 and 2050. (Clicking
on any of the charts will give you access to a larger version.)
All of the graphs on this page are based on 1990 census data. When the year 2000
census data will be reflected, the picture that emerges will with a very high probability
be worse. That is because few population projections made by demographers in the
past allowed sufficiently for the effects of falling birth rates. The
future effect of
falling birth rates has been persistently underestimated.
|The following graphs show the proportions of people of school age, of working age and
of retirement age over the years in China, India, Canada and Germany.
The information in the preceding four
graphs is also based on 1990 census data from the International Database of the
U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Once more, the problem facing all countries in the world will be a
shrinking working population that must strive to provide for an ever-growing population
sector comprised of the elderly. Moreover, the working population will have to do so
with the full knowledge that when they become elderly in turn, their needs must be looked
after by a working population totally inadequate for the task.
|The problem will not go away. It will become worse, far worse. The only
choice that will be available for older people no longer employed is whether they'll die
voluntarily or because they are destitute.
Without any doubt, some people, relatively few, will have sufficient
wealth to be comfortable in their old age. However, the number of those people
living in comfort will shrink rapidly as rising costs of services and increasing taxation
to pay for the enormously escalating social costs will strip the purchasing power from
their savings, in case they still can save anything.
With each day anyone grows older he'll come one day closer to his personal
Armageddon. There'll be no escape for anyone and for no nation. The first
pains are being felt already now, but they'll become far worse during the next few years.
wrote from India to comment on the observations contained in this
Update 2012 12 27:
Back to the first page of
Demographics of the
World and for selected countries
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