Pyramid, kite or door – Comparing age profiles of countries

Last week we ran a post from the blog ‘Brick and Rope’ on the greying of Japan. The transition of Japan’s demographic profile from a pyramid to a kite was so stark that it made me curious about population pyramids for other countries. This post has the data for India, China and France, and by next week we’ll try and look up some interesting information on questions arising from these.

india's population pyramid 2
The Population Projection Report 2006 (for entire report, click here) by the Technical Group on population projections commissioned by the National Commission on Population includes these tables. This link shows how India’s population pyramid is expected to become squatter in shape by 2050. In fact, it pictorially shows the changes 1995 on.

China's population pyramidThis report shows how the population pyramid of China is changing with time. If you want to have some fun with this, check this link – it has an interesting animation which shows how the age composition of China’s population will change over time (from 1950 to 2050).









An interesting comparison of the demographic profiles of India and China here in this interview with a senior advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research, relevant excerpt below :

How does this profile compare with other major states in the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, which is still the most populated country in the world?

China is clearly the obvious comparator to India, with a current population of over 1.3 billion. No other countries are even close in scale to these two.

India is on track to become the world’s most populous country in the not-so-distant future, however. Both Census and UNPD projections anticipate that India’s population will exceed China’s by 2025, and the UNPD’s projections imply that the crossover may occur even sooner than that—possibly within a decade.

By 2030, current projections envision that China will have entered into a long-term depopulation. That impending depopulation is by now virtually unavoidable and has already been “baked in the cake,” so to speak. The county’s fertility trends sank below the replacement level two decades ago and are currently estimated to be 30% below replacement.

China’s working-age population is on track to peak around 2015 and will have been shrinking for a decade and a half by 2030. By contrast, India’s steadily growing working-age population will be the world’s largest well before 2030.

China will be aging very rapidly over the decades immediately ahead. By 2030, the population’s median age will likely be about 43 years, up eight years from today, and the 65 years and older share will be approaching 17%, twice as much as today. Accordingly, China will face the burdens that come with an aging population. By 2030 it will be a decidedly “grayer” society than America today—on an income level far below current OECD norms, even assuming rapid material progress.

China’s coming population profile will also be characterized by major changes in family structure. Due to the prevalence of female feticide today, China now has a biologically abnormal “excess” of little boys, which portends a potentially monumental “marriage squeeze” in the decades ahead. While China currently has a universal marriage norm, in less than a generation a fifth or more of men in their late 30s or early 40s may be essentially unmarriageable. This is a demographic wildcard for China’s future and may presage unpredictable social strains or political pressures. While India also has abnormally high ratios of little boys in some regions, its gender ratio is far less extreme than China’s and is unlikely to have similar ramifications on marriage prospects.

Thus far, India’s prospective population profile may sound more favorable than China’s, at least regarding implications for economic development. However, China will retain a number of demographic advantages bearing directly on economic potential. Today, China is substantially more urbanized than India. The UNPD estimates 48% of the country is urban today, as against 30% for India, and it projects that this gap will actually widen over the next two decades. For another, China’s overall public health conditions are substantially better. Life expectancy in China is about eight years higher than it is in India and is projected to remain significantly higher through 2030.

Perhaps most importantly, China has a dramatic edge over India on mass educational attainment. As of today, almost everyone in China’s working-age population is at least literate. By contrast, roughly a third of India’s working-age manpower has never been to school. India is about half a century behind China in eliminating illiteracy. Even posting steady educational progress, India will still lag far behind China in attainment levels twenty years from now.

Another interesting comparison is between the projected population profile of India, China and a western nation, let’s pick France. This link shows the French population pyramid going on a diet and shrinking between 1990 and 2050. This report has graphs that show the way the world population’s age composition will change over time; no surprises once you’ve seen the graphs for India, China and France, but worth looking at an aggregate picture anyway. 

world popn pyramid

world popn pyramid 2




  • Zenobia Driver

One Comment

  1. escapevelocityblog April 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Hello again. As usual, feels great to read your comments. Do keep visiting the blog. Regards,

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