According to this article, India’s lack of control over population growth might turn out to be a good thing for the country. And the rest of the world too.
As the developed world get older, it’s going to need a large numbers of skilled immigrants just to be able to maintain its high standard of living. And India, with an estimated surplus of 47 million people with an average age of 26, may be best positioned to supply the manpower.
Interestingly, China’s one child per family law would see even it facing a shortage of skilled manpower in the coming decades, with more people retiring than entering the workforce.
I see either mass immigration into those countries facing manpower shortages, or mass outsourcing of work to India. Right now I see a tilt towards outsourcing, but who knows how it’s going to pans out in the coming decades. It depends on how nations around the world react and adapt to the situation.
This seems to forget that economies adapt. Just because today it requires x workers does not necessarily follow that in 20 years it will still require x.
China will not have a manpower shortage. 10 million shortage out of 1.3 billion is about 1%. There are soooooo many efficiencies that could be gained in China, including in the ag sector, that I don’t think there will a labor shortage in the foreseeable future.
The situation is definitely looking up for India, but it’s still not the best position to be in. Outsourcing is certainly bringing a lot of money in, but there are drawbacks. The first is that outsourcing is not stable. It’s a lowest common-denominator thing, and as soon as countries that can demand even lower wages and worse working conditions turn out a genaration of English speakers, the whole thing is going to pack up and move. These companies arn’t interested in India or India’s future.
Nor are they investing their money back in to India. Most of the capital gained through outsourced Indian labor goes right back in to these multinational companies. Only the small amount that is actual wages (a job that pays $300 a month in India pays about $2500 in India) stays in the country- an increasing amount of which is spent on foreign-made manufactured goods.
We must also remember that the support of India’s outsource workers falls on the shoulders of it’s poorest. They eat food grown by the world’s poorest farmers, wear clothes made in the world’s poorest sweatshop and generally rely on people working in some of the worst working conditions imaginable to do their jobs. As it stands now, we are seeing a richer India, but also a more divided one. More middle-class workers means more poor ones are needed, and the day of unviersal education and the eratication of child labor are far far away, which means it will be a long time before the poor have a chance to become middle-class workers.
Only if the money made by outsourcing stays in the economy will it start to improve the life of the poor.
Anyway, this may all be moot. Even with outsourcing, India has a glut of labor. It’s not rare to see three people to do the job of one, and there are many jobs (guards at mall stores that do nothing but open doors, elevator attendents at brand-new buildings) that don’t really have to be done at all.
I read the entire article and I think this chap needs to be slapped silly. For the most part the type of individuals who would be able to provide the type of life to produce the type of workers needed in a highly skilled economy tend to have very few children and I can’t see them as changing their patterns. More severely underprivileged people having more grossly underprivileged children doesn’t make for a skilled work force. It just heightens the frightening gap that already exists. The only way India could possibly begin to invest in its human capital (more than enough exists at the moment IMO) is to promote limiting its population and make systematic efforts to invest in its educational structure and raise the standard of living for more people. And of course, not get bought off by multi-national corporations (I fully support the market revolution in India but the potential for corruption and overlooking a lot of stuff is ripe in a country where political corruption is endemic).
About 65% of the Indian populace is literate (cite1) and literacy here is defined as being able to read and write by the time you’re 15 (cite2). So, this says nothing about skilled and trained labour.
Worse, birth rates for the population that has received higher education are indeed falling (in a pattern that matches much of the Western world). These are the people who would be the primary job creators, and the primary sources of scientific, infrastructural and technological development. Sadly, the current underprivileged are the ones who are reproducing at a far greater pace than these “developers”. Considering that industries worldwide are shifting to a model of mechanical efficiency, and that technology is improving everyday, I really don’t think having millions of fairly unskilled people is going to improve things much for India in the future. Industry is getting less labour-intensive, not more. (Of course, there are indeed miracle, Reader’s Digest-ish stories of uneducated, underprivileged people who made it big, but these are few and far between. For the vast majority of people, if you start out in life with a handicap, you pretty much go on that way for the rest of your life.)
And what’s really scary is that, despite the strides she has taken in the previous few decades, India does not currently have the infrastructure to develop its human resource potential fully. Schools are under-staffed, under-budgeted, and overpopulated in terms of students. I myself have studied in classes with 75-90 kids. In high school and junior college. And these were not “lecture sessions” either. Just regular classes, day in and day out. One teacher to almost a hundred kids. Unless something drastic happens in terms of a reduction in corruption and a massive increase in budget allocation, I can only see this problem getting worse as time goes by and the population increases.
(Interestingly, Singapore, which started out with a fairly similar population demographic way back when, did one thing right. That was investing heavily in education. Teachers were treated well. Schools were given the money they needed. And this has worked for the country. But of course they’re a tinpot little place, especially compared to India, so most things are a lot easier to handle. Can’t really expect India to have done the same after Independence. She’s just too darn big.)
And then there’s the whole MNC thing. India is opening her markets and yay, more jobs! But most of the money is flowing right back to the parent countries for the MNCs. Good for Indian economy, but not really good, ya know?
Honey, “working age people” does not mean people you’d want working for you. Sad, but true.
India’s a great place, she’s getting better day by day, and I love her with all my heart, but no, there’s just no way to put a good spin on this disgusting population bloat.
China Guy: True, economies do adapt. IMO, the direction most mature economies have taken are towards greater automation and cost reduction. To varying extents, both these tendencies will take away jobs from developed nations, and bring them to countries such as India and China.
I too was surprised that China found mention in the list of countries expected to face a manpower shortage. But if Lee Kwan Yew has an opinion, I’ll take heed of it.
even sven: Outsourcing was bringing in only the CSR-type jobs. That’s changed. For sure, those kinds of jobs will continue to come in until they can be done cheaper in other countries (China or south-east Asia, for example). What’s new, however, is an ever-increasing stream of high-tech engineering jobs being brought in, in sectors such as automotive design, telecom, biotech and IT. These kinds of jobs won’t go to the next cheapest nation - not for a very long time.
adam yax: I believe the surplus refers to people having the kind of skills that are in short supply. Anecdotal example: when I was learning German, I had priests, nurses and english language teachers as classmates. A friend taking french lessons also had nurses in her class. They were all headed abroad, to Europe and North America. This is now. Imagine what happens where there are even fewer Europeans and North Americans to do those jobs.