Wall Street Journal - "India’s Population Surpasses China’s, Shifting the World’s ‘Center of Gravity’"
"In many ways, India looks like China did 30 years ago. It has a rapidly expanding working-age population, with 610 million people under age 25, and relatively few older people to care for. It will be the only nation with a big enough labor force to approach China as the world’s factory floor, though poor infrastructure and byzantine investment rules could stand in the way.
India has upgraded its infrastructure by paving roads and building new airports, and expanded access to electricity and water across the country. India’s mobile payments system has also sparked a boom in digital payments. Some economists predict that India’s gross domestic product will more than double to $8.5 trillion from $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years, after roughly doubling over the past decade.
Still, the country has added zero net new jobs over the past decade, in part due to the pandemic, even as over 100 million more people entered the labor force. Many young people don’t bother looking for work, given insufficient opportunities.
India has 228.9 million people, or 16.4% of the population, living in poverty—the most in the world, according to U.N. data, although the numbers have fallen. Some economists warn that India could face internal instability if it doesn’t create more economic opportunities. Authorities last year quelled violent protests in two states after more than 10 million people applied for 35,000 jobs with the national railway system.
China’s demographic challenges, meanwhile, aren’t insurmountable. Officials believe that with better education and technological advancement, they can offset the effects of a shrinking labor force.
Whatever happens, the world’s future population will be tilted more toward the Global South—and not just because of India. South Asia will have the largest working-age population among all regions by 2041, according to World Bank estimates.
Demographers long expected India to surpass China, but China’s policy decisions accelerated the process."