How the Demographics of China and India are Diverging
Within popular discourse, especially in the West, the profiles of China and India have become inextricably linked.
Aside from their massive populations and geographical proximity in Asia, the two nations also have deep cultural histories and traditions, growing amounts of influence on the world stage, and burgeoning middle classes.
China and India combine to be home to one-third of the world’s megacities, and they even had identical real GDP growth rates of 6.1% in 2019, based on early estimates by the IMF.
But aside from the obvious differences in their political regimes, the two populous nations have also diverged in another way: demographics.
As seen in today’s animation, which comes from AnimateData and leverages data from the United Nations, the two countries are expected to have very different demographic compositions over time as their populations age.
The easiest way to see this is through a macro lens:
Populations of China and India (1950-2100)
|🇮🇳 India||0.38 billion||1.37 billion||1.64 billion||1.45 billion|
|🇨🇳 China||0.55 billion||1.43 billion||1.40 billion||1.06 billion|
Although the countries have roughly the same populations today — by 2050, India will add roughly 270 million more citizens, and China’s total will actually decrease by 30 million people.
Let’s look at the demographic profiles of these countries to break things down further. We’ll do this by charting populations of age groups (0-14 years, 15-24 years, 25-64 years, and 65+ years).
China: Aftermath of the One-Child Policy
China’s one-child policy was implemented in 1979 — and although it became no longer effective starting in 2016, there’s no doubt that the long-term demographic impacts of this drastic measure will be felt for generations:
The first thing you’ll notice in the above chart is that China’s main working age population cohort (25-64 years) has essentially already peaked in size.
Further, you’ll notice that the populations of children (0-14 years) and young adults (15-24 years) have both been on the decline for decades.
A reduction in births is something that happens naturally in a demographic transition. As an economy becomes more developed, it’s common for fertility rates to decrease — but in China’s case, it has happened prematurely through policy. As a result, the country’s age distribution doesn’t really fit a typical profile.
India: A Workforce Peaking in 2050
Meanwhile, projections have India reaching a peak workforce age population near the year 2050:
By the year 2050, it’s estimated that India’s workforce age population will be comparable in size to that of China’s today — over 800 million people strong.
However, given that this is at least 30 years in the future, it raises all kinds of questions around the economic relevance of a “working age” population in a landscape potentially dominated by technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.
While it’s clear that the world’s two most populous countries have some key similarities, they are both on very different demographic paths at the moment.
China’s population has plateaued, and will eventually decline over the remainder of the 21st century. There is plenty of room to grow economically, but the weight of an aging population will create additional social and economic pressures. By 2050, it’s estimated that over one-third of the country will be 60 years or older.
On the other hand, India is following a more traditional demographic path, as long as it is uninterrupted by drastic policy decisions. The country will likely top out at 1.6-1.7 billion people, before it begins to experience the typical demographic transition already experienced by more developed economies in North America, Europe, and Japan.
And by the time the Indian workforce age group hits 800+ million people, it will be interesting to see how things interplay with the world’s inevitable technological shift to automation and a changing role for labor.
The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth
This visualization breaks down how household wealth is distributed around the world. Just 10 countries now account for 75% of total household wealth.
The U.S. and China Account for Half the World’s Household Wealth
Measures like GDP are commonly used to understand the overall wealth and size of the economy. While looking at economic output on an annual basis is useful, there are other metrics to consider when evaluating the wealth of a nation.
Household wealth statistics reveal which country’s citizens are accruing the highest level of money and assets worldwide.
This visual utilizes data from Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report to break down the latest estimates for household wealth by country.
Household Wealth, by Country
Here’s how the world’s $463 trillion in household wealth is distributed:
|Rank||Country||Household Wealth (2022)||% of World Total|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||$145.8T||31.5%|
|#5||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$16.3T||3.5%|
|#11||🇰🇷 South Korea||$10.1T||2.2%|
|Rest of World||$73.6T||15.6%|
As the table above demonstrates, global household wealth is far from being distributed equally.
Country-Level Wealth Concentration
Much of global wealth is concentrated in the biggest economies, with households in China and the U.S. combining to make up half of all personal wealth in the world. This differs slightly from using GDP as a measure, where the U.S. and China make up 24% and 19% of the world economy in nominal terms, respectively.
Today, just 10 countries account for 75% of total household wealth.
One of the biggest changes in recent years is the rise of wealth in China. A decade ago, China’s citizens were estimated to hold just 9% of the world’s wealth. That figure has now more than doubled, while median wealth in the country has skyrocketed from $3,111 to $26,752 between 2000 and 2021.
A Regional Look at Household Wealth
From a regional standpoint, wealth is equally split three ways, between North America, Asia, and everywhere else.
In just one decade, Europe’s share of household wealth dropped by eight percentage points, which is due, in part, to the economic momentum of China.
Surprisingly, the regions of Africa, South America, Oceania, and the Middle East combine only for about 11% of the world’s total household wealth.
Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities
The world’s most surveilled cities contain hundreds of thousands of cameras. View this infographic to see the data in perspective.
Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities
This may come as a surprise, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the global urban population overtook the rural population. At that time, the two groups were split nearly 50/50, with around 3.3 billion people apiece.
Today, the percentage of people living in urban areas has grown to over 55%, and is expected to reach 68% by 2050. Due to this trend, many of the world’s largest cities have become home to tens of millions of people.
In response to such incredible density, governments, businesses, and households have installed countless security cameras for various purposes including crime protection. To grasp the scale of this surveillance, we’ve taken data from a recent report by Comparitech to visualize the most surveilled cities in the world.
The List (Excluding China)
Excluding China for the time being, these are the world’s 10 most surveilled cities.
|City||Population||Number of Cameras||Cameras per
|🇮🇳 Indore, India||3.2M||200,600||63|
|🇮🇳 Hyderabad, India||10.5M||440,299||42|
|🇮🇳 Delhi, India||16.3M||436,600||27|
|🇮🇳 Chennai, India||11.5M||282,126||25|
|🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia||12.6M||213,000||17|
|🇮🇶 Baghdad, Iraq||7.5M||120,000||16|
|🇬🇧 London, UK||9.5M||127,373||13|
|🇷🇺 St. Petersburg, Russia||5.5M||70,000||13|
|🇺🇸 Los Angeles, U.S.||3.9M||34,959||9|
The top four cities all belong to India, which is the world’s second largest country by population. Surveillance cameras are playing a major role in the country’s efforts to reduce crimes against women.
Further down the list are cities from a variety of countries. One of these is Russia, which has expanded its use of surveillance cameras in recent years. Given the country’s track record of human rights violations, activists are worried that facial recognition technology could become a tool of oppression.
The only U.S. city on the list is Los Angeles, which contains some of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods and municipalities. That includes Beverly Hills, which according to the Los Angeles Times, has over 2,000 cameras for its population of 32,500. That translates to about 62 cameras per 1,000 people, meaning that Beverly Hills would finish at #2 in the global ranking if it were listed as a separate entity.
Surveillance in China
IHS Markit estimates that as of 2021, there are over 1 billion surveillance cameras installed worldwide. The firm also believes that 54% of these cameras are located in China.
Because of limited transparency, it’s impossible to pinpoint how many cameras are actually in each Chinese city. However, if we assume that China has 540 million cameras and divide that amongst its population of 1.46 billion, we can reasonably say that there are 373 cameras per 1,000 people (figures rounded).
A limitation of this approach is that it assumes everyone in China lives in a city, which is far from reality. The most recent World Bank figures suggest that 37% of China’s population is rural, which equates to over 500 million people.
With this in mind, the number of cameras per 1,000 people in a Tier 1+ Chinese city (e.g. Shanghai) is likely far greater than 373.
More About China
China’s expansive use of cameras and facial recognition technology has been widely documented in the media. These networks enable the country’s social credit program, which gives local governments an unprecedented amount of oversight over its citizens.
For example, China’s camera networks can be used to verify ATM withdrawals, permit access into homes, and even publicly shame people for minor offences like jaywalking.
This might sound like a dystopian nightmare to Western audiences, but according to Chinese citizens, it’s mostly a good thing. In a 2018 survey of 2,209 citizens, 80% of respondents approved of social credit systems.
If you’re interested in learning more about surveillance in Chinese cities, consider this video from The Economist, which explores the opportunities and dangers of comprehensive state control.
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