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The Future of South Asia: Population Dynamics, Economic Prospects, and Regional Coherence

  • David E. Bloom


    (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • Larry Rosenberg


    (Harvard School of Public Health)

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    What do we foresee for South Asia in 2060, in light of the significant changes it has undergone in the past few decades? India has experienced rapid economic growth, but continues to suffer widespread, extreme poverty as well. Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have seen major conflicts, with Pakistan always seeming on the verge of a major eruption. Nepal and Sri Lanka finally seem to have moved toward peace. As elsewhere, the region's many developments and crosscurrents make reliable predictions difficult, but one relatively neglected set of factors – demographic change – may shed some light on the region's future. Throughout the world, falling mortality rates and declining birth rates have been predictive of growing per-capita incomes, and theoretical reasoning and related evidence are sufficiently compelling to think that the links may indeed be causal. In this vein, this essay explores South Asia's economic prospects through a demographic lens. In addition, as we will see, there are some similar demographic trends across the countries of South Asia, but there are also a number of extreme differences. Regional heterogeneity bears on the question, "to what extent is South Asia a coherent region?"

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    Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 6811.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:6811
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    1. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2005. "Global Demographic Change: Dimensions and Economic Significance," PGDA Working Papers 0105, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
    2. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2003. "Contraception and the Celtic Tiger," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 34(3), pages 229–247.
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