Demographics of India - Regional Outlook & Trends in 2023

Obstacles still exist across the country in improving living standards, providing skills and training, and creating jobs, preventing India from reaping the demographic dividend.
Last Updated: July 16, 2023


Population growth outlook of India

Since India’s independence, the demographics have undergone dramatic changes. Experienced a population explosion in the past, the total population of the country has exceeded 1.4 billion, four times the population (340 million) at the time of independence in 1947, rising from one-eighth of the world’s population to one-sixth. The total population of India has surpassed China in April this year (2023), becoming the most populous country in the world.

Although India has been experiencing rapid population growth, it is currently experiencing a slowdown in the total fertility rate. In addition, various mortality indicators have improved as medical technology has improved. However, there are still certain obstacles preventing India from reaping the demographic dividend in terms of improving living standards, providing skills and training, and creating employment opportunities.

Unlike China, which is also a populous country, the Indian government has not implemented any birth restriction policy so far. Although some political leaders have been working for years to promote similar bills, hoping to limit people to only two children, but None of these proposals even passed a vote.
But even though the country is undergoing a demographic transition, the death rate continues to decrease, and the birth rate slows down to 2.0, India’s population growth is still higher than most countries, and the growth rate will still maintain a certain speed. In 2021, it will be 0.8%, and the total number of growth will be 8.8 times that of China. The United Nations Commission on Population and Development does not expect India’s population to start declining until 2060, so while the birth rate is falling, the likelihood of a diminishing demographic dividend over the next 20 years or so remains low, ensuring India’s global competitiveness in terms of labor supply. Investors are all attractive.

With such a population growth trend, the proportion of the working-age population has increased from 50% to 65%, which means that there is a higher proportion of the working population and a lower proportion of the dependent population, and the dependency ratio has increased from 65% in 2000. Significant decline to 48% in 2021. This in turn increases productivity and brings better conditions to India’s economic base. While some economists see India’s young population as an advantage over China’s aging population, the national workforce is still constrained by the absence of women in the labor force, with only one in five women employed.

At the same time, due to the low level of education, many working people lack the basic skills required by the modern job market. So even with the largest population, India still has one of the lowest employment rates. In 2021, the total labor force will be only one-third of the national population, and only 60% of China’s total labor population (the difference between the total labor force is 300 million people).

Table of Contents
India - Shares of Population by Age Group
India - Factors Behind Growth (Per Thousand People)


Population Structure & Trends in India


Ethnicity & Culture in India

India, the ancient country, has survived many foreign invasions such as British colonization, but has maintained diversity in unity. This pluralistic society is mainly manifested in aspects such as race, language, religion and cultural habits.

In terms of race, the main races in India include Indo-European Aryans (72%), Dravidians (25%) and Mongols (3%). These groups vary from region to region in India and have their own unique cultures, customs and traditions.

Language-wise, India has an extremely high linguistic diversity with the possibility of 1,652 different languages or dialects. Major languages include Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, etc. Furthermore, English is widely used in business, economics and politics in India.

In terms of religion, India is a multi-religious country. The main religions include Hinduism (79.8%), Islam (14.2%), Christianity (2.3%) and Sikhism (1.7%). Religious belief is of great significance to the daily life of Indians, thus forming a rich and colorful festival culture.

India’s caste system is one of the oldest in the world and divides people into four main categories: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Although in urban areas the lines between different castes have blurred, in rural areas the caste system persists and affects people’s lives.


Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, and other 3% (2000)


Hindi 43.6%, Bengali 8%, Marathi 6.9%, Telugu 6.7%, Tamil 5.7%, Gujarati 4.6%, Urdu 4.2%, Kannada 3.6%, Odia 3.1%, Malayalam 2.9%, Punjabi 2.7%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.1%, other 5.6%


Hindu 79.8%, Muslim 14.2%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.7%, other and unspecified 2% (2011 est. by CIA)

India - Education Overview
India - Tertiary Education %


Labor Outlook in India

As one of the most populous countries in the world, India has presented a unique situation in terms of economic development and demographic changes in recent years. Despite a declining fertility rate, a growing population means that India will continue to have an ample labor supply for decades to come. This trend is closely associated with higher economic growth in India, improved women’s well-being, and higher educational attainment.

However, the development of the Indian labor market has not been all smooth sailing. The unemployment rate continues to rise, and the labor force participation rate has been below 50% in recent years. In addition, the gender gap in the Indian labor market is also worthy of attention. Women’s labor force participation in India is relatively low due to cultural and social factors, with only one in five women employed. Especially during the epidemic, more women choose to withdraw from the labor market. The female participation rate in Indonesia, which is also a major Asian country, is 40%. If India can also achieve the same female participation rate, the total employment participation rate of the two countries will fall at the same level.

In the context of the labor force participation rate, the Indian government has actively promoted a series of policies and programs to improve labor market conditions. Among them, the promotion of the Production Linkage Incentive Program (PLI) in the manufacturing sector will help increase India’s attractiveness in the eyes of global investors. In addition, with the further advancement of education popularization and skills training, the shortage of professional talents in India may be expected to be alleviated in the future.

However, it is worth noting that in the development of the Indian labor market, the government and all sectors of society also have some potential risks. First, while India’s pension system puts relatively little pressure on public finances, the lack of jobs will put pressure on government entitlement spending. This means that in the next few years, the Indian government may need to continue to invest a lot of resources to protect people’s livelihood and well-being. For example, lack of employment opportunities and low labor force participation mean that the population (especially outside the cities) has a relatively high poverty rate, requiring large welfare spending. One notable program is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGS), which requires the government to create jobs for those who seek paid work from the government.

India - Labor Participation Rate
India - Labor Participation by Group
India - Participation rate by sectors


Regional Developments in India

According to Indian government statistics, from 1995 to 2021, India’s population increased from 901 million to 1.39 billion, an increase of 54.2%. During this period, there were significant differences in the demographic and economic development status of each region.

In North India, the population of the capital Delhi more than doubled from 9.7 million in 1995 to 21.6 million in 2021. This is mainly because the economic strength and infrastructure of the capital Delhi are better, which has caused a large number of people to migrate to this area. Delhi’s GDP per capita has nearly more than quintupled from $1,450 in 1995 to $7,500 in 2021, just below Mumbai.

Compared to North India, the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are doing well in the tech sector. For example, Bangalore in Karnataka is known as India’s Silicon Valley. The number of employees in the technology industry has increased from 100,000 in 1995 to 3.8 million in 2021, a 38-fold increase, accounting for 4.7 million of the total number of employees in the technology industry in India. More than 80%. In addition, the standard of living in South India is generally higher, with a per capita GDP of US$3,080 in Tamil Nadu and US$2,950 in Karnataka.

West India is represented by Maharashtra, with rapid economic development and rapid population growth. This is mainly due to the fact that Maharashtra is the second most populous state in India, with a population of 112 million in the 2011 census and the second most populous administrative region in the world. GDP per capita increased from US$1,350 in 1995 to US$4,500 in 2021. The state’s capital is Mumbai, which is one of India’s main economic and cultural centers. Mumbai’s per capita GDP is about US$10,000, the highest in India. Pune is also one of the major cities in the state and has a relatively high economic strength. In addition, Gujarat in the region has India’s largest port. According to the forecast of the local Maritime Safety Administration, it will handle an average of about 35 million tons of cargo per month in 2023. Therefore, it is expected that the total cargo volume this year will be higher than the 411 million tons in 2019 before the epidemic.

However, Northeast India, including Assam, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, has relatively slow economic development and population growth due to its remote location. Assam, for example, has a per capita GDP of just $1,580. However, the Indian government is working hard to improve infrastructure in Northeast India, for example, the Jiribam – Imphal railway line, which has the world’s tallest piers. To ensure that these projects are completed on schedule, the Government of India has provided full support and resources. The average annual budget allocation has increased by 370 per cent compared to the annual expenditure of Rs 2,122 crore between 2009 and 2014, which now stands at Rs 9,970 crore for fiscal year 2022. In addition, the government has provided more educational and medical resources to promote economic development and population growth in these areas.

Population by Major States/Regions | Unit: '000
GDP Per Capita by Major States/Regions | Unit: Rupee


  • Population project by age group: UN population database | Data after 2022 is estimated/forecasted | Forecasted with medium variant
  • Currency: nominal USD, unless otherwise specified. | IMF
  • Economic projection: OECD, IMF, EIU, Local Government
  • Culture, ethnicities, languages: CIA Factbook
  •  Education: World Bank
  • Labor ParticipationL ILO,
  • Data Aggregation & Calculation:
  • Analysis: Economic Team
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