This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Indian State Paying Women to Delay Pregnancy

Not long ago I noted that Iran was paying women to have children. Now comes the story that the state of Satar in India is paying women to not have children, or at least to delay the birth of the first child. Betrothed couples are offered a "honeymoon package" equivalent to $106 to use contraceptives for awhile after getting married. There are also encouragements to delaying marriage itself, which globally is the more effective method of raising the age at first birth among women.

These ideas are arriving in India almost 40 years after the Chinese government instituted the wan xi shao (later, longer, fewer) campaign that helped to accelerate fertility decline in China and which evolved later into the one-child policy. But, of course, this is only one state in India, and it is focusing only on the early part, not on the longer (spacing of children) or the fewer part, and there is virtually no chance that anything close to a one-child policy will be implemented in India. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction. The New York Times article reporting this story did get one thing wrong, however:

Waiting also would allow India more time to curb a rapidly growing population that threatens to turn its demography from a prized asset into a crippling burden. With almost 1.2 billion people, India is disproportionately young; roughly half the population is younger than 25. This “demographic dividend” is one reason some economists predict that India could surpass China in economic growth rates within five years. India will have a young, vast work force while a rapidly aging China will face the burden of supporting an older population.
A youth bulge is not the same thing as a demographic dividend. The dividend comes only when the birth rate drops rapidly and produces a large young adult population that has few young or old dependents. This will not happen under conditions of a slow decline in fertility, such as is occurring in India.

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