This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com
On nearly every socioeconomic indicator, these two states tend to sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. But there’s one where they sit side by side: their inability to hold on to their young with ample economic opportunities, shows an analysis of Census age data of 505 Indian cities and towns with a population of more than 100,000. At a broader level, this data is illustrative of the concentration of economic opportunities in India to select city clusters, raising questions about migration and livelihoods.
Concentration of economic opportunities
Of the 505 cities and towns with a population above 100,000, in only 30 does the 20-34 age group—the prime and potential of a workforce—make up more than 30% of their population. Maharashtra dominates this list, with 10 cities. Other than Maharashtra, only Gujarat, the Nationa Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and Tamil Nadu have more than one city in the top 20. Uttar Pradesh, the state with the most such cities and towns (64), has only one in this list; as do the next two states, West Bengal (61) and Madhya Pradesh (44).
Maharashtra on one end, Bihar and Kerala on the other
Several industrial hubs, like Pimpri Chinchwad and Pithampur, feature in the 15 cities with the highest percentage of 20-34 year-olds. Four of the top 15 cities are from Maharashtra. In the bottom 15, Kerala has seven cities and Bihar has four.
Even within states, there is wide variance
Bihar and Kerala are a distinct notch below other states in having a young population in their cities and towns. Although Maharashtra dominates the top, it also shows a wide variance, suggesting uneven development. Two other large states that show wide variance are Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Bihar and Kerala
Although Bihar and Kerala are lumped in the bottom, there are nuances. While Bihar is primarily about urban migration caused by a lack of economic opportunities, Kerala’s numbers are also tempered by fertility rates that are lower and life expectancy that is higher than most Indian states.
Urban migration without families
Most cities and towns with the highest percentage of 20-34 yearolds have lopsided sex ratios, which indicate that single men, or men leaving their families behind, are migrating to them for work.
Among populous cities, Kolkata has the smallest percentage of the young
A majority of the 15 most populous cities have a middling to high percentage of 20-34 years in their population. Kolkata, Lucknow and Kanpur come in at the bottom of this list. In terms of sex ratio in this age bracket, most cities show a male skew, other than Hyderabad and Chennai.
Notes: Data is for 2011, before Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form Telangana. In order to enable understanding and facilitate indicative comparison, city names have been stripped of their administrative Census definitions like municipal corporations, outgrowths, census towns, etc. So, for example, Bengaluru here represents the Greater Bengaluru metropolitan area, or Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).