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South and East Asia: demographic challenges

Asia is the most populous continent on the planet. However, the difference in population and growth, both in South Asia and in East Asia, are beginning to worry researchers. It is estimated that in a few years countries like India will surpass the current China in terms of population.

In the same way, other more developed countries, such as Japan, will begin to have serious economic problems due to the aging of their population. We will deal in this article with some of the demographic challenges facing the Asian continent.

Population development in South Asia

Asia’s population is unevenly distributed over the continent. This imbalance is the main cause of the demographic problems that areas such as South Asia and East Asia face today and will face in the future.

 

South Asia has a population of over 1,605 million inhabitants, surpassing East Asia by 100 million inhabitants.

Overpopulated areas, such as Bangladesh or Hong Kong, have a population density that exceeds 1,000 inhabitants per km². By contrast, other areas are totally deserted, like Pakistansome Indonesian islands and the highlands of Tibet.

According to experts, South Asia is expected to remain the world’s fastest growing population region. Growth of over 7.1% is calculated for 2020 as a result of the improvements made in recent years.

Population imbalances in East Asia

In the case of East Asia, China remains the most populous country on the planet.. Its current population is around 1.361 million inhabitants, according to the UN. Their special situation is due to the now-abolished one-child policy. As a result of it, its male population almost triples the female population today.

And with a population of 127 million inhabitants, Japan holds the title of country with the highest life expectancy on the planet. However, today it faces population loss due to high aging. In the last five years, almost a million people have died in Japan. Other problems are the overpopulation of Tokyo and the abandonment of rural areas.

Rising Human Development Index in Asia

Two of the factors that most accelerate population growth are the improvement of the educational system and the improvement of health. Globally, in recent years, more than two million people have been lifted out of conditions of extreme poverty. Within that figure, the largest percentage is concentrated in South Asia.

In this region, the growth rate registers an annual average in the human development index (HDI) of 1.4%. Countries like Bangladesh or Nepal, despite their low population compared to the rest of Asia, lowered their poverty rates. Even so, there are several countries that are well below the desired IHD.

China and Japan

Regarding these great powers of East Asia, it is believed that the incentives for the insertion of young people in working life could benefit this demographic growth which starts to be negative. Policies that support increasing the role of women in working life and improving education could be decisive in China.

As for Japan, the government remains concerned about the low birth rate, in addition to having one of the oldest populations in the world. The latter, added to the overpopulation of urban areas, has prompted an immediate reaction from the government of Shinzo Abe.

The new policies try to reverse this trend and curb the migratory flow to cities like Tokyo. In the same way as China, they want to increase the presence of women in the labor market and improve their conditions to favor an increase in the birth rate.

To end, it is also important to highlight the effects of rapid industrialization and urbanization in the environmental degradation suffered by the continent. Deforestation is one of the most serious threats facing Asia. It attacks in a very different way, as is the case in Indonesia due to the exploitation of palm or the lack of natural resources in the case of Japan.

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