As per the Census data, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with their highest under-14 child population will be the major contributor to the workforce, with developed States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu reaching or already crossed their peaks.
The census shows that India’s demography is undergoing two simultaneous and opposing changes.
- A decline in absolute child population under the age of 14 is being witnessed States like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh as was expected due to decrease in female fertility that began in the 70s in the southern States. Although, other States like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttarakhand have shown small rise in child population, in the total child population falling.
- However, the share of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, that still have high fertility, has increased acutely. One in every three children under the age of 14 in India comes from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.
As per the Census data:
- U.P. with 35.69% and Bihar with 40.1% of its population under the age of 14, have much higher figure than India as a whole which has 31% of its population under the age of 14.
- While the rest of the country has witnessed a decrease in the proportion of its population that is under 14, for Bihar, this proportion has surged by over 10% points since 2001 which makes it the only State that has added more persons under the age of 14 than over the age of 60.
- Developed States are hitting their peak working age populations, and are ageing faster than the rest of the country.
- At present, Tamil Nadu has the highest proportion of its people in the working age population with 66.66% of three residents of the State are between the ages of 15 and 59.
- India as a whole has 8.5% of its population over 60.
- Tamil Nadu and Kerala have older populations; nearly 13% of Kerala is over the age of 60.
What does the data suggest towards policy formulation?
The two processes taken together indicated that today’s children, who come mostly from U.P. and Bihar, will form the workforce of the future. This is of major significance for State and Centre policy. It means that northern States will have to spend more on school education, while southern States can begin to focus more on quality. The other implication is that skill development is going to be critical for India’s demographic dividend to yield.