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For a nation to thrive, all members of society must contribute, especially children and youngsters who need to express themselves. Investments in children and youth pay long-term dividends in terms of high productivity of the economically active population until they retire.

India has one of the world’s youngest populations, with a majority of its youth living in rural areas.

The drop in reproduction rates reduces the share of the young population, and if the decline is quick, the increase in working-age population is large, giving the ‘demographic dividend’.

Less children in the population means more investment per child. So future workers can be more productive and hence earn more.

Median age rises in India: Since 2011, India’s median age has climbed from 24 to 29 years, and is anticipated to reach 36 years by 2036.

India is in the midst of a demographic shift, with a declining dependence ratio (from 65% to 54%) and a working-age population of 15-59 years.

The demographic change in India offers a chance for speedier economic growth.

Although the demographic change has benefited India’s GDP less than other Asian countries and is currently waning.

While India is a young country, the status and pace of population ageing varies by state. Southern states have a higher percentage of older individuals due to their demographic change.

  • While Kerala’s population is ageing, Bihar’s working-age population is expected to grow till 2051.
  • By 2031, 11 of the 22 major states would have a smaller working-age population.
  • The age structure reflects the state’s economic and health development.
  • Ways to Improve Education Standards: Regardless of location, public schools must ensure that all students graduate from high school and enter appropriate skilling, training, and vocational education programmes.
  • Making use of modern technology to set up virtual classrooms using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and investing in open digital institutions would assist further educate the workforce.

Completing Health Requirements: India’s old population is expected to double from 8.6% in 2011 to 16% in 2040. Unless health system investments address these infirmities, this will drastically diminish per capita hospital bed availability in India.

More health financing and better health facilities must be ensured, and reproductive healthcare treatments must be made accessible based on rights.
Workplace Gender Gaps: Women and girls urgently need new skills and chances to participate in a $3 trillion economy.

This can be achieved by

  • Gender budgeting to analyse gender disaggregated data and policy impact
  • Inflation-adjust
  • Increasing part-time tax breaks
  • Policy coordination between states on increasing population challenges like migration, ageing, skilling, female workforce participation, and urbanisation would require a new federal approach to governance changes for demographic dividend.

This governance structure should include interministerial collaboration for strategic planning, investment, monitoring, and course correction.

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