Crowded cities, empty villages?


On his first visit to India, an American colleague once surprised me by saying that India didn’t seem to have as much population as he had assumed.

When I asked if the unbelievably high traffic on the roads wasn’t enough of an indication, he said that he had expected much more! (He must have seen an image of the Kumbh Mela.)

Of course I can’t blame him – India will overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in just 6 more years! Further, the population won’t stop growing for the next 35 years.

But this enlightening article in Quartz presents an interesting trend.

Although the population is growing, if you think that it is consistent across the country, you are mistaken.

As most of us know, rural areas are slowly becoming empty as the young migrate to cities in search of jobs, in nearly all the states. (This percentage though is very low compared to other developing countries.)

But along with that, many states, especially the ones in the south, are seeing a reduction in the replacement rate.

Replacement rate of 2.1 is the rate at which the population stays the same. The southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana now have a replacement rate of 1.7-1.9 per woman. This is equivalent to Norway!

This means that though India has the world’s largest number of young, the south will soon have a lot of elderly people. And India isn’t prepared at all for this upcoming support system crisis. (This is the crux of the Quartz article.)

This will be especially true in villages, which have a greater lack of facilities.

So yes, my colleague was right in a way. The southern rural areas in India are indeed emptying.