Mr. Shreenivas Kunte will present his pre-synopsis as per the detail:

Date: 23 September 2022

Time: 1600 hrs.

Venue: CTARA Conference Room No.1

Guide: Prof. Om Damani

Co-Guide: Prof. Satish Agnihotri

RPC members: Prof. Priya Jadhav, Prof. Parthasarathy

Title: India's demographic dividend: Analyzing UN SDG Targets on schooling and economic output


India is currently in the classic "dividend phase" of a once-in-century demographic transition. With fewer dependents to support compared to the working-age population, this phase offers a window of opportunity for accelerated economic growth. The "dividend" is however not automatically guaranteed but is contingent upon the ability of the working population to produce goods and services. The potential to "produce", is itself dependent upon the level of schooling. One needs to look, therefore, at the interplay of these critical parameters, viz. the population including fertility, the schooling level, and finally the production of goods and services as measured by the economic output.

To understand the dynamics and the mutual impact these parameters have on India's demographic transition and inevitably, development progress, we use the Integrated Sustainable Development Goals (iSDG) System Dynamics model. We demonstrate that by the UN SDG's achievement deadline in 2030, India's average schooling years will remain trapped at around eight years of schooling. Without secondary level schooling, the country will be starved of a sufficiently skilled workforce. This will lead to lower production of goods and services. The resultant sub-optimal economic growth will mean insufficient resources for developmental interventions. In terms of the UN's SDG framework, we find that by 2030, India will not be able to meet the UN SDG's two goals and three targets on schooling (Goal 4) and economic output (Goal 8). The UN SDG targets for labour force-related goals too (Goal 5 and Goal 8) are unlikely to be met.

Our seven-stage population model, a fundamental building block in our iSDG model adaptation, highlights the need to factor India's spatial heterogeneity. We find prominent demographic differences between parts of northern India and southern India. Four big northern states are on track to increase their population share from 37% as of 2011 to nearly 50% by 2061, likely leading to an unequal distribution of political power. Our analysis highlights two different coexisting demographic transition stages that are regionally clustered. First, twenty-one states (and union territories), including all the large four south Indian states, have already gone past their demographic dividend phase peak. Second, for the remaining group of fifteen states, including four of the most populous states, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the demographic dividend phase will peak in the next five years. These four most populous northern states also have low basic schooling levels and are rather delicately poised. For these large states and, so, for India, a lack of urgent and focused action on schooling, increases the risk of dealing with a demographic liability. The girl child schooling years metric for the four most populous states, where incidentally the demographic dividend is yet to peak, is six years of schooling. This translates to a schooling deficit of at least two decades compared to the southern states that are past their dividend peak. Schooling impacts everything and is at the core of achieving all seventeen UN SDG goals. Our modeling shows that one extra year of girl-child schooling reduces the total fertility rate by more than 10%. Increased schooling has a dampening impact on population growth. Lowering the population frees up public and private resources, in turn, leading to a better-quality workforce, increased productivity levels, and a higher gross domestic product, creating and reinforcing virtuous feedback loops.

Our twelve-stage schooling model demonstrates how existing stocks of illiterates make it difficult to raise youth literacy levels, preventing India from meeting the UN SDG's Goal 4, Target 6 (youth literacy rate). Even if aggressive intervention is undertaken now, shaking off the illiteracy albatross will not be easy. We find that achieving the UN SDG's 100% youth literacy target by 2030, is highly unlikely. Further up the schooling chain, a combination of high dropout rates and lower enrolment rates prevent India's average schooling years to increase beyond eight years by 2030. Our work shows that increasing the average schooling by one year can take more than ten years of time. This means slow and limited progress on UN SDG's Goal 4, Target 1 (secondary education for all).

Lack of adequate schooling has a severe impact on skilling and hence workforce productivity. We find that even by 2030, a large proportion of India's youth will be underemployed. By 2030, the number of people who have not completed secondary school (class ten) will continue to remain above 40% of the workforce. Given that most industrial vocational training programs need a minimum educational level of Class ten, a significant part of the workforce will simply lack the qualification to get trained, resulting in continued lower labour force participation rates, impacting India's progress on the UN SDG's Goal 5, Target 5 (women labour force participation rate). The resultant inevitable skilling shortages will limit India's economic growth, affecting Target 1 (economic growth) and Target 5 (employment for all) for the UN SDG's Goal 8.

Societal development is contingent on multiple factors, not just education. In any case, schooling is very basic. The least we can do is to overcome our schooling deficit. Our analysis is in a certain sense a wake-up call. If we do not wish our demographic dividend to become a demographic liability in states where the demographic dividend window is still fully open, urgent and aggressive intervention in good education, with an emphasis on improving girl child schooling, ought to be a top policy priority. Simultaneously, we need to be sensitive to the emerging regional imbalance vis a vis the dividend and the unintended consequences this may have.

Event Date: 
Friday, September 23, 2022 - 16:00 to 17:30