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Population Growth and Ageing in the BRICs

Population growth is expected to slow in the BRICs over the next few decades, pushing down their aggregate share of the global population. The age structure of the BRICs will also continue to shift progressively towards older populations. In the process, each of the BRICs will encounter—or is already encountering—an advantageous ‘demographic window’ in which the working-age population is disproportionately large. With an appropriate policy framework, this could provide a boost to growth in Brazil, China and India for several years; Russia’s window of opportunity has probably already passed.

Over the past 50 years, the population of the BRICs has more than doubled. However, population growth is expected to slow notably over the next several decades, producing a concurrent fall in their share of the global population. Only India should continue to see its population size and global share continue to expand.

The age structure of the BRICs will also shift progressively towards older populations over the next several decades. This shift reflects a ‘demographic transition’, during which a rapid fall in mortality rates and a more gradual fall in fertility rates produces a temporary population ‘bulge’. As this ‘bulge’ cohort passes into the working-age bracket, it has the potential to boost economic growth because this segment of the population provides relatively more labour and savings. This period of advantageous demographic profiles, known as the ‘demographic window’, is expected to last for several decades in Brazil, China and India, while it is likely nearing its end in Russia.

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