Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Population growth in South Asia

There is a correlation between prosperity and a falling population growth rate. For the longest time I had thought that increasing prosperity drives having fewer children, but something CIP posted or linked to, seemed to show quite clearly that in the modern era at least, countries entered the (virtuous?) cycle of increasing prosperity, decreasing population growth rate by first decreasing the population growth rate. A very obvious example of this is China. The reasoning is that smaller families (at any income level) result in more capital being accumulated - whether that be in physical assets, or less tangible ones such as more education or more parental attention per child.

In that regard, it is interesting to look at the big three of the Indian subcontinent. As per the CIA World Fact Book, estimated population growth rates for the countries are,

Bangladesh: 2.02%
India: 1.58%
Pakistan: 2.00% - this last is interesting, we shall see below.

In the 1951 census, India had a population of 357 million, and today 1148 million, a factor of 3.22 increase.

East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1951 counted 42.06 million souls and today 153.6 million, a 3.65-fold increase.

Pakistan (then West Pakistan) started out behind East Pakistan in 1951 at 33.78 million. This being in the minority had fateful consequences - if Pakistani history can be summarized in one sentence, it is the history of attempting to evade the consequences of one person-one vote. Pakistan went through political contortions and ultimately the 1971 war trying to keep the Bengali majority from playing a dominant role in politics. The irony is, as per the CIA World Fact Book, Pakistan's count is now 172.8 million, way ahead of Bangladesh. Pakistan has increased by a factor of 5.1 since 1951. That does not square with its estimated current growth rate of 2%.

Pakistan has been 95% or more Muslim since 1951. East Pakistan was 76.8% Muslim in 1951 and is 83% Muslim now. India was 10.4% Muslim in 1951 and 13.4% in 2001. Using the 2001 religion ratios, one can calculated that Indian non-Muslims increased by a factor of 3.04 since 1951, while Indian Muslims have increased by a factor of 4.12.

(Figuring things about Bangladesh is difficult because we do not know how many people have emigrated, in particular how much of the non-Muslim population has migrated.)

Over the coming days you are going to hear or read a lot about oppression of Muslims in India, and how they are falling behind in the economic race with Hindus; even the so-called lower castes of Hindus. Without minimizing the real political and social problems that Indian Muslims face in India, the demographics contribute some small part to their problems.

And if the Pakistan population estimate is correct, it is a time-bomb that cannot be defused. There is not enough resource base - not even in people resources - to support its population. Let this fact sink in - in the land won for the Muslims who yearned to breath free of Hindu neighbors, the literacy rate is lower than among India's "oppressed" lot of co-religionists. Of course, Pakistan is famous for cancelling its censuses and national sample surveys, because of fear of what the results might mean politically, so the estimates are much more rough than for India or Bangladesh. A sliver of straw for the drowning, but that is all the world has.

My commentary is that Pakistan is destined to explode; it is best to do it now rather than later, when the costs will be higher. IMO, the state needs to be dismantled and made into a UN protectorate.

1 comment:

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I don't want to comment on your strategy, except to say that I disagree.

I recommend this gapminder graph:$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=6;ti=2007$zpv;v=1$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0TAlJeCEzcGQ;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=199;dataMax=42642$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=0.842;dataMax=8.7$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=i18_l001950b6aK;i44_p001950acbi;i170_t001950,,,,;i101_t001950,,,,;i150_t001950,,,, though, which shows the total fertility vs. per capita income. Notice that Bangladesh is following essentially the same trajectory as China, only 25 years behind. India, which started out richer, is taking a slower path to the more or less magic 2.something fertility rate, while Pakistan, initially richest of all has been slowest to follow that trajectory. I also put up Morocco and China for comparison.

All those countries are overpopulated, but all seem to be slowing population growth fast enough that increasing productivity can hope to keep up.