Everything you wanted to know about population in India (but were too lazy to Google)

Yogesh Upadhyaya
4 min readAug 26, 2019

This is the first part of our series, “Everything you wanted to know about population in India (but were too lazy to Google)”. The second post is “Are Acche din of population growth already here”.

Is India overpopulated? Is the sex ratio in the country dangerously low? Is India a young country? Population related questions are often a subtext in discussions on the economy, environment and many social issues. What does the data and best analysis say on this topic? What do the experts say?

Over the next few months we will try to answer these questions and we will blog as we learn. We hope that you will point out our mistakes and more importantly raise questions that you want answered!

We have started with three basic facts on population increase, sex ratio and the relative youngness of India.

Population growth

How large is the population in India? How much has it grown in recent decades? The answers are ‘very’ and ‘quite a lot!’. As Professor Devesh Kapur pointed out in his contribution to our most recent Rediscovery of India, the country added more people in the last twenty five years, than the total population at the time of Independence!

If we look at the last 65 years, we again see a sharp growth. The number of people increased from 376 Million in 1950 to 1,311 Million in 2015. A 3.48 times increase! That certainly looks like a population explosion. However, the population of the whole world grew a lot during the same time. It increased from 2.5 Billion in 1950 to 7.4 Billion in 2015. A 2.91 times increase.

So yes, the population in India has grown a lot since independence but that is true for the whole world in the last sixty five years. Of course, the population has grown faster in India that it has grown in the rest of the world.

Sex Ratio

The most basic way of classifying a population is by sex. Here is the number of women per 1,000 men in India and the world since 1950.

As can be seen, the number of women per thousand men in India has been much lower than the rest of the world. Interestingly, the number has fallen in the last 65 years both in India and in the wider world. Also, at least in India, the fall in the number seems to have flattened out.

Why has the sex ratio in India been low since 1950 (and persumably from before that)? Surely it was not because of sex selective abortion. Why did the ratio fall below 1,000 around 1955 for the world? And why has it constantly fallen since?

A young India?

We hear a lot about how India is a country with a very young population. It is true. The median age in 2015 was 26.8. However, it should be noted that India has always been a young country and in fact, the median age has been increasing in the last few decades as the following chart shows.

Summary

  • The population of India has grown a lot since Independence.The world population also grew a lot during the same period but at a lower rate.
  • The sex ratio in India has been lower than the rest of the world for the last 70 year and the sex ratio has fallen both in India and the world.
  • India has been a young country since independence. It has been growing older in the last few decades.

Next blog in this series >> Are “Acche Din” of population growth already here?

The second post in the series is “Are Acche din of population growth already here”.

The data for this post is from UN Query tool on the web and my calculations.

Yogesh Upadhyaya is one of the founders of AskHow India. Blogs are personal views.

Follow Yogesh Upadhyaya on @Uppi89

Follow AskHow India on @AskHowIndia

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Yogesh Upadhyaya

Entrepreneur. Economist. Investor. Actor. Technophile. Policy wonk. Comedian. I love to explore places where these worlds intersect.