India Seen Topping Global Labor Force In Next Decade, Data Show

  • China seen slipping to second; U.S. holds onto third spot
  • Millennials are ‘key demographic segment’ for Indian economy

Employees work at an office in Mumbai.

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

India’s millennial generation is bigger than China’s or the U.S., which will boost the nation’s labor force to the world’s largest by 2027, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of United Nations population-projection data.

India’s working-age population is expected to expand to 18.6 percent of the global labor force by 2027, up from 18 percent this year, while China’s is forecast to fall to 18.3 percent from 20.5 percent, the data show. The number of people in China aged 15 to 64 will drop by 21 million to 989.4 million. In India, this number is expected to exceed 1 billion.

Millennials are “the key demographic segment in India’s population and labor force," according to a research report by Morgan Stanley. “India’s strikingly young population is in sharp contrast to that of other large economies such as China, the U.S., and Europe.”

India’s millennial population is larger than China’s or the U.S.’, according to Morgan Stanley, which defines the group as between the ages 18 and 35 years. The population in that youngest worker age bracket will continue to rise in India, the researchers note, even as it contracts in the U.S. and China.

In fact, China’s overall labor force will decline by 21 million people, followed by an 8.2 million-worker drop in Russia and a decrease of 5 million in Japan over the next decade, the new data show. The U.S. will hold onto the distant No. 3 spot, shrinking to 4 percent of the world’s labor force from 4.3 percent over the next 10 years. Indonesia is projected to come in at No. 4, and Brazil will round out the top five with 2.8 percent.

Today, half of the world’s labor force lives in India, China, the U.S., Indonesia and Brazil, but in 30 years, the global labor force will become less concentrated as India, Pakistan and African nations make up a growing share of the pie. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to account for more than one-in-five workers globally by 2047.

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