India’s youth educated but increasingly jobless?

As education enrolment has grown, participation in the workforce has fallen for both men and women.

July 28, 2014 07:08 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:22 pm IST

Photo: Subir Roy

Photo: Subir Roy

India's demographic dividend, the numbers indicate, should be paying off right now. India is one of the youngest major countries in the world right now. China hit its peak youth population in 1985 after which it has been steadily greying, while the process began earlier still in Europe and North America.

India's youth population - aged 15-24 - now stands at around 230 million, the largest it has ever been. However, the youth bulge has already hit its peak; the proportion of young people in the population is now in decline in India too, which means that India has not a lot of time left to do well by its young people. And how is it doing on that?

India has made significant strides on education: from less than 20% of 15-24 year-old rural females being literate in 1961, more than 85% of rural young women were literate in 2001 and more than 90% of both urban men and women.

As education enrolment has grown, participation in the workforce has fallen for both men and women.

But that's not the full story - over 20% of young men and 18% of young women are seeking work, a worrying statistic for a country that has already hit its demographic peak.

(All the Indian data in this infographic is from the Census and all the international data from the UN Population Division.)

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