The demographic landscape in South Asia


Recent changes in the demographic landscape of South Asia are producing handsome gains. Fertility and mortality are declining, survival chances are better and there is prolongation of later life. Demographers and public policy analysts attribute this to improved economic performance, the growing outreach of public healthcare services, and reductions in absolute poverty.
Sri Lanka has secured notable achievements, especially in its socio-demographic and health indicators.  Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are not far behind. India has reduced its fertility and mortality levels significantly. More than half of its major states have already achieved replacementlevel fertility and it is fast shaping a bulge in favour of working age youths and older adults.
Pakistan is projected to converge soon to joinothers. Afghanistan, unfortunately, remains the exception.
A growing bulge in the region’s younger population has two important economic repercussions.

• A youth bulge leads to a rise in new job seekers. Adopting appropriate economic policies to create more employment
opportunities for them holds the promise of a demographic dividend.
• A growing older population raises issues of income security and health provision.

Much of South Asia has yet to develop policies that explicitly target both these issues. Old age income security still needs to be fully addressed. Employment opportunities, particularly in the organised sector, are also severely lacking.
A South Asia regional conference was organised by the Institute of Economic Growth (Delhi) in 2008, to examine these challenges. It brought together international scholars, including demographers, economists, labour market specialists, poverty analysts and medical doctors. A selection of papers has recently been published in an edited volume,1 highlighting four dimensions of the research and policy challenge:
• Changes in country demographics of the region: opportunities and challenges.
• Bulge of the younger cohorts and meeting employment needs of the growing number of labour market participants.
• Rapid ageing and missing pillars in income and health security provision for the old.
• Achieving population and health MDGs in India and South Asia.

Two clear messages emerge from this research.

Firstly, South Asia is ill-prepared to face the challenges of ageing that will become increasingly visible over the coming years.
Second, the demographic dividend might not be fully realised, due to the failings of South Asian countries in ensuring broad-based opportunities for education, skill formation and decent work.

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31 Responses to “The demographic landscape in South Asia”

  1. AgreeToDisagree Says:

    There were NEVER any jobs only apprentices and the manufacturers that werent going to take advantage of the 99% blue collars while the white collar management types got peanuts and the board of director CEO types took everything. After the War of Independence, some of the Tories

    pretended to be Americans who loved democracy. If they were so democratic they should have distributed the land and wealth ESPECIALLY the oil or gold or mineral wealth there and then as trhe property of ALL the people not those who happened to be there . . . NOT continue the fiat and

    feudal tax system which has ballooned to an extreme form this day. If the 99% knows whats good for them, they will vote only on the above premise and on a statuary declaration by the proposed candidate to immediately ratify that bill immediately once in office AND only the Joe Public types

    or those millionaires not above 20 million are more likely to accede to the above pre-vote requirement – welcome to the War of Independence 2, this time to OVERHAUL the constitution and wealth distribution paradigm. Within this bloc is described exactly what must be done, I haven’t collated

    the text yet, but distribution of wealth and land is the very first thing to be done. The 1% won’t like what they see but the 99% who are dying of poverty out there will definitely want to voet for that land or money.

    Being civilised though, USA should allow the 1% types to take out the fiat the 1% think they are entitled to (printing presses go into ooverdrive) THEN switch to PMs and imposed Wealth sequestration limits of 20 million. End of story, those who do not have jobs should work their land, if

    theyy innovate, they get rich by patents but limited to 20 million. End of story and we will still see innovation AND better distribution of wealth, we dont need homeless or beggars, nor do we need millions and billions worth plutocrats AND USA will truly belong to everyone (everyone gets a

    few acres of land USA has 2 billion acres of land – thats 6 acres each, enough to grow and live off very comfortably unless having many wives or many children by a single wife – this automatically warns against overpopulation, at the same time there will never be a jobs problem again, the

    food/medicine from the ground/produce if they work the land is FREE (no more food stamps), there will be no homeless (everyone has land to build on, if they work hard they will be able to build palaces), finally MIGRANTS can be invited in to WORK FOR AMERICANS who have land,

    thereby creating options for EVERYONE as well as bringing in a useful menial class who can be fed and housed to work on manufacturing with materials form the land, and be sent home with some manufactured goods which obviously need USA to innovate as any country which adopts the

    above system will not need to send their people overseas.

    The governments that are exploitative intentionally and slow on the implmentation of the above will likely be the countries USA or countries using the above system will get their menial workers from. This also says that freey legalized migrants AND overpopulation AND lack of natural

    resources OR over-militarisation or expenditure on military adventurism will be the killers of any nation. There is no jobs shortage or homelessness or hunger if land and wealth is re-distributed. Try the below SHARE :

    1 billion will be allowed to keep 20 million liquid, 1 vehicle per family member (carbon footprint reduction)
    100 million will be allowed to keep 2 million liquid, 2 vehicles per family
    10 million will be allowed to keep 200 thousand liquid, 1 vehicle per family
    1 million will be allowed to keep 20 thousand liquid, 1 vehicle per family

    This may seem extreme but because everyone will be producing food and goods (think 3D printers) will be produced by migrant labour, prices probably will return to 1800 era levels. (i.e. a horse cost $30 silver dollars, today 2010 $2000 therabouts or 60 times. So considering that, all above sums would be 60 times more in liquid asset, with $600K Rolls Royces or Sports Cars costing $10,000, a Fast Food Meal costing 0.99 should be worth 2 cents (0.016 exactly, maybe 3 meals for 0.02 cents – but who needs to pay for food when food is free), an Android phone would cost USD$3.33 . . . so voters please vote properly for a 2 TERM ONLY, Governor or Congressman or President who will do the above and put an end to this useless back and forth . . . as for manufactured goods for locals, ALL workers of any particular manufacturer are entitled to requisition a single unit of that item the factory produces, payment will be CENTS only, so people will work to obtain goods direct or to be exchanged via barter. This is calculated by man hours of work – doubtless a high tech handphone should be worth more man hours than a t-shirt but if wifey at home can knit you a shirt, only the difficult to build items will be worked for with MANY people opting out and rather choosing quality of life instead of being insulted by being on the work line . . .

  2. w3jmosaderpa1980 Says:

    Reblogged this on rebeccavguzmanr.

  3. Poverty and Indonesia | strivetoengage Says:

    […] […]

  4. Siddharth Bargate Says:

    Very good blog,we all have to do something for reduce poverty from this world.As I am from India and India is more poor people compare to Africa continent.So here I am try to reduce poverty by online and offline works for best NGO of India.You can also help to reduce poverty in India by donate online to below NGO.

    Below is some great quotes on,poverty

    Walking past a beggar and the suffering,a man asks,”Why,oh God,do you not do something for these people?” To which God replied, “I did do something,I made you.”

    God Making A Very Simple Proposal-’You Help The Poor,Needy,Disabled and I Will Repay It’

    Karma Yoga Is Able To Change Anybody Life


  5. Reece Hughes Says:

    It is positive for South Asia that fertility is increasing and the rate of mortality is decreasing, this means that the economy must be growing with an improved standard of living. This, however leads to a growing population where more young people are looking for jobs that are currently unavailable and the older generation are wanting pension payments. This puts increasing pressure on the rate on unemployment as well as on the government to provide jobs and pension payments.

  6. Rachel Says:

    We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, uneducated and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. If we can reduce fertility and mortality our survival chances would be better and there would be a prolongation of a later life

  7. Michelle Says:

    If the world can improve its youths education and learning skills, it can contribute to a positive growing economy and create more job opportunities that will increase employment and reduce poverty. The older generation should share their experiences and skills with the younger, new generation in order to help improve their learning skills.

  8. Trevolen Govender Says:

    It is great that South Asia’s poverty is decreasing, due to the large population and high fertility and mortality rates, South Asian governments cannot ensure that everyone is fed and sheltered because many of the residents of South Asian countries do not have adequate education and often find themselves working at a very young age in order to provide and survive.I hope that this will one day diminish and the world becomes a place where all are equal with no difference in classes but society inevitably wont allow that.

  9. Reggies Says:

    I think the biggest factor that would reduce poverty all over the world is reducing the amount of people living on our planet. This will cause each individual to get a bigger piece o the GDP so to speak. Yes replacement level fertility shows growth ,but there is still to much people. I am not saying that the current living population should be drastically reduced. The appropriate way is to put in laws that lets each family only have one child ,thus ensuring each future generation gets the best care ensuring that the mortality rate decreases fast. This laws will help poverty and ensure that our future generations is educated and wanted like Rachel mentioned above.

  10. Krisanka Redelinghuys 14004217 Says:

    Krisanka Redelinghuys 14004217 It is really great and fantastic that there are some countries that’s poverty is decreasing. But what we must focus on now are they countries who are still struggling to get there. They have a clear goal, but need help to get there. For elderly people, a young bunch of children were always needed to help around the house and on the farms and to get jobs and get a small income. These days having a bunch of children is impractical and there is no jobs available. Medical services and health care are becoming very expensive. I believe as soon as the equilibrium balance in all countries between the amount of infants and mortalities can be reached. Poverty , health care and security will all improve.

  11. DenisTheMenace Says:

    The increase in the South Asian population is going to cause major problems for the governments of that region. The increasing life expectancy is going to be one of these problems. Two examples of this are: As more people live longer they will work for longer which leads to less jobs and they will require pensions for much longer which will put satin on the governments. The governments are going to have to start planning for the future carefully and intelligently.

  12. Richard Modiba Says:

    Good blog indeed. As an Politic Science student at the University Of Pretoria, it seems to me that the level of Human Security in South Asia has exception rather impressively improved. As the Asian government has taken valuable means to protect the lives of its citizens by mortality reduction and most importantly if the levels of education are improved this is to allow sustainable economic growth.With economic growth comes reduction of poverty, this reflects the preservation of humanity in action.

  13. Itumeleng Tsotetsi Says:

    This is a really informative blog. It it always good news when we hear that poverty has decreased and fertility rate has increased, these two go hand in hand. Poverty is a socio-economic problem facing the whole world. I agree with Michelle that we can fight it by improving the Youths Education and learning skills. Education helps children to realize their full potential and acquire sills to better their lives. Proper health care is also essential. The government should also ensure proper water and sanitation systems . It is the little things that should be done to fight poverty from being passed on from generation to generation.

  14. Truth Masemola Says:

    It is always a good thing to hear that poverty is ending, but South Asia making the move doesn’t really guarantee a much higher percentage in decreasing of poverty because it has a large population and it is promising jobs that it cannot provide. We believe there is friction unemployment, this are people in “between jobs”, so what the youth is really doing is searching for jobs that are not even guaranteed to avail themselves any time soon. It is a good thing poverty has people trying to overcome it.

  15. Wihann Kotze Says:

    The growing opportunity in South Asia is a great prospect and surely it will have many benefits for the world economy. If the younger generation can feed off of the experience of the older generation then they can support each other in the nearby future. The knowledge that the younger generation will recieve and learn could improve their overall business sence and eventually improve the economy. When this happens the better economies could handle the big population of people that will go on pension.

  16. farai musekiwa(14296064) Says:

    To a greater extent, it is great news hearing that South Asia’s poverty is declining because the standards of living will improve also.The South Asian governments are trying their best to improve the well being of their people so you can not blame them in future because its better than nothing.

  17. Cobus Fell Says:

    South Asia has a population of 618, 000, 000 people with a poverty percentage of 24.5%. This percentage is a decreasing percentage from before 2011. The decreasing poverty percentage is good considering the high fertility and mortality rates in South Asia. With the high population growth there is a problem with work seeking population. This part of the population is workless and this can contribute to the poverty rate to increase again. South Asia has to pay attention to this factor to help the population. It also have to look at the older work force to prevent the poverty percentage to increase after these people stop working as there is missing pillars in income and health security. But even with all these factors the improvement of the standard living is the most important aspect for South Asia as this will help the youth with their education. If the government can address some of these problems this will help to ending the poverty in South Asia.

  18. Ryan Els Says:

    Poverty is broadly defined as “the general scarcity or dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money”. I think that it is important to note that poverty should not only be measured economically, but socially, spiritually and emotionally as well, as was mentioned by Rachel above. Sure, a government could upgrade a slum residential area, but if the only objective in mind is to increase the country’s statistics concerning economic stability and equality, is poverty completely alleviated? Does a jobless person who resides in a slum not experience the same poverty in an upgraded house with access to electricity if he cannot afford to pay for that electricity? I personally believe that governments should shift their focus to developing the skills and expertise of youths to ensure an economically strong and educated generation that can push whichever country they inhabit to a greater economic level. That way, a huge part of poverty will alleviate itself through the economic growth brought about by the younger generation.

  19. Yusra Q Says:

    It is quite brilliant to see that this blog is dedicated to how poverty can be overcome with Economics.Reading this made me see the way the Economy works as there is a cycle where seniors retire and young people graduate which will keep the Business environment stable. Economics is the root of fertility and mortality due to the governments investment in it i.e. when the government spends money on health it reduces mortality and when the government adopts fertility polices it reduces fertility. South Asian countries are highly over-populated and require these policies. A reduction in mortality will increase the work force and a reduction i fertility also increases the work force because mothers will not leave work to take care of children. This was a great insight to the changing demographic

  20. Marine Says:

    I think that it is good that the poverty problem in South Asia is more under control. It is good that there are countries that are trying to fix poverty problems, I think it is very important in this matter that they should stress the factor that they must come up with a plan that will be efficient now as well as in the future.

  21. Michael Aguirre (14220602) Says:

    Thank you for this post on the reduction of poverty in South East Asia. It is encouraging to see that there is growth in these parts of the world known to have much poverty amongst them.

    My first response it to user: “agreetodisagree”. Your comment is intriguing, but I disagree with your ways to eradicate poverty in the USA and therefore affecting the entire Earth. Yes, sharing the wealth amongst the USA’s population is an ideal, but it is not practical. Not all land is fertile in the USA, and secondly, not everyone will be able to plant, grow and harvest their food successfully if they have decided to grow. That is why in this day and age, people have different careers. Not everyone can be a scientist, and not everyone can be a farmer. Your implication states that all people will need to farm for their food and it impractical.
    I agree that prices will go down, but so will innovation.
    There will be no competition since there is an imposed wealth limit of $20M, and because there will be no competition, no innovation will occur.

    Therefore I must disagree with your method. It is an ideal to eradicate poverty but it is not practical.

    Secondly, the post discusses the fact that mortality and fertility rates are decreasing in India. This is good news because the growth of the population was trending in an unsustainable manner. Not only would food supplies be too little for the population, but basic products and sanitation would be too little as well. Energy production would meet the quota and overall, there would be more suffering and poverty.

    With a required increase in the organized job sector, an idea to increase the jobs in this sector would be to use labour to start building solar power energy plants. This would provide the country with jobs, but also sustainable energy. According to the IEA (International Energy Association), energy required to be produced by alternate power sources (Solar in specific) are required to be at 26% of the world’s energy production. With that said, massive amounts of investment into these plants is needed. This will provide the much needed jobs, and government can take the job and create a publicly run energy foundation to distribute the pay equally.

    This is great news that Asia’s poverty is decreasing, but there is still much to do.

  22. Jervin Naidoo Says:

    I really like the way in which the author formulates her arguments and points.
    Demographic challenges are definitely hard to deal with.
    The problem not only lies with trying to solve the issue but rather early warning to let states know that in 5-10 years time demographics and populations issues will become a problem like In China soon.

    Demographics issues need solid policies made by the legislatures to prevent.

    Also I feel that most of Asia as well as third world give the past too much power and how it determines your states future.

    Great read

  23. Christiaan Says:

    Poverty can be overcome. This article creates an impression that we really can overcome poverty, but the right policies need to be in place. Education will,however, play the biggest part in the success of this. When citizens are properly educated, it doesn’t matter where they live. They don’t need to become farmers either. Education will lead them to live better lives and contribute to the nation’s GDP, regardless of their careers.

  24. Tayla Says:

    It is promising to read in this post that South Asia has managed to alleviate poverty to some extent through declining fertility and mortality using improved economic performance as well as the improved use of public healthcare services. It is however worrisome to note that the elderly will once again slip into a state of poverty when they reach a certain age where old age income security has not been fully addressed. One can only hope that the abundant amount of human resources exhibited at the conference held by the Institute of Economic Growth in 2008 can further develop a solution to fully alleviate poverty in South Asia for all ages.
    This post raised some good points and was easy to read, thanks!

  25. thandeka octavia Says:

    good blog indeed since poverty is a serious isssue in all countries.reading this has made me see how the economy works.we all have to contribute somehow to ending the world poverty putting everything to the goverment is not enough at all.its good to know that the state is always finding ways to reduce poverty.

  26. Koloane Masipa Says:

    It is a good thing to hear that South Asia has reduced it’s poverty levels. But population has the potential to impact all aspects of poverty. Fertility trends can help a country determine when and how to invest in it’s population and jump-start economic development. Overtime, a population characterized by high fertility and mortality rates progresses in stages through declines in mortality and later fertility rates. Early in this demographic transition, when mortality has declined but fertility remains high, there are a large number of children and elderly dependents for each person of working age. High fertility can strain low-income families ability to provide for children.

  27. Chandre Says:

    I believe that this is a positive thing for Asia as Asia is experiencing economic growth and this has resulted in reduced poverty levels and an increase in their standard of living . Hopefully the government find a way to create jobs and prepare themselves for the challenges that could result from this demographic change

  28. Onnica Says:

    I think that this will benefit Asia greatly because a reduction in poverty gives the economy a boost, strengthening their currency and attracting foreign investment. the writer justifies their points. I appreciate the post on the reduction of poverty in South East Asia

  29. lerato Says:

    It is said that if one is born into poverty it’s understandable but if one dies while in a state of poverty it’s rather baffling. Poverty is a world pandemic but it enlightens me to see countries finding ways to improve the rates. I believe that every piece of effort will come to pass but there honestly external forces that are at play and it’s not as easy as stated to come up with all these policies and creating job opportunities. Education is one way of eradicating this but it’s all up to the people at the end of the day.

  30. Guide Madembo Says:

    It is quite remarkable that South Asia ,despite having a notably large population, still shows signs of improved economic performance ,growing public healthcare services, and reduction in absolute poverty. Regardless of the reductions in the level of fertility and mortality, it is rather premature that the economy be expected to cater for both; the older population’s income security and new employment for the younger population.

  31. Thabisile mnguni Says:

    i think it is safe to say that we can expect gradual changes in the coming years in relation to combating poverty. it is a good thing that fertility and mortality are declining, survival chances are better and that they is prolongation of later life. however my question is one, is the economic condition stable enough to sustain these live. one issue that bothers me most is the fact that not much attention is brought to issues facing the youth because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.

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