Through most of recorded history, the phrase “China has the biggest population” has a been a constant of every school room, pub quiz, and geopolitical calculation. So it’s going to feel slightly odd in November next year, when India is going to overtake the People’s Republic. But it’s going to be very, very significant, both for the two countries themselves and for the rest of us who share their planet. The Guardian has two pieces which explain the situation for any enquiring mind. The first  by Hannah Ellis Peterson will give you all the detailed facts you need, along with some excellent graphics.
The second  by Julian Borger looks at the implications. Will China’s population shrink? Will they see a huge demographic bulge which has to be supported by a smaller and smaller pool of young workers? What are the implications for China’s military future, especially if confronted by an aggressive younger power just across the Himalayas? As Julian presciently observes:
Through that prism, China’s military spending is a bet that it will bend a large part of the world to its will so that it gains privileged access to resources. But if that bet fails, Beijing will have spent a lot of capital that could have been used to adapt its economy to the encroaching limits, leaving the country stuck in a middle-income trap.
But lastly, gentle readers, we’d like to turn back to Hannah’s article because we think the statistics in it bear out a point we’ve been trying to make for a long time (see LSS 22.6.,4.7/1/11.22) Richer people have less children than poor ones. They also have less motive to up sticks and move. With all the implications that has for the so called immigration “debate” in western countries. Could we start to conduct it in grown-up terms from now on, please?
#india #china #population #demographics #superpowers