New Delhi leads the country in terms of its population of young adults. At four million, the proportion of people between the ages of 18 and 24 in the city is 25%. Mumbai and the urban areas of Thane (this includes all satellite towns of Mumbai in Thane district, including Navi Mumbai) follow with 2.6 million and 1.8 million, respectively, while Bangalore is fourth with 1.3 million. Interestingly, Kolkata and Chennai do not make it to the Top 10—not just in terms of the absolute population of young people, but also in terms of proportion (in both cities around 18% of the population is accounted for by the young in the age group of 18-24 years). Both Kolkata and Chennai have a larger share of people above the age of 45 than other cities.
Also see Youth Magnets (Graphics)
One factor that influences the number of young people in a city is its attractiveness for migrants—Bangalore’s software industry and Surat’s textile and jewellery industries are natural magnets for the youth. Then there are educational considerations; cities such as Pune, Delhi, and Hyderabad have become hubs for higher education, bringing in students not just from within their states, but also from other regions.
Yet, in most of these cities, as share of total population, the proportion of the young does not exceed 25%. In just six of India’s top 112 cities, this proportion is higher than 30%. On top of the list of the six is Noida, a New Delhi satellite. It has become the preferred base for students and single people, and is close enough to New Delhi for them to commute daily.
But what draws the youth to some cities? Educational opportunities are one factor, but not the most significant. A large number of young people in cities popular with the young are not graduates. These people largely find jobs in the so-called unorganized sector. Cities with high economic growth (Delhi, Pune and Surat being some examples), and, consequently, a bigger and thriving unorganized sector are, therefore, far more attractive than others with much better educational options.
Population growth and high fertility rates in the city and in its surrounding areas are another factor and an important one. Allahabad is a case in point— high fertility rates in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have resulted in there being more young people in this area. And Allahabad is among the few large cities in that part of the country. Bokaro is another such area, and also one with a distinct advantage—its large mining and basic industry is a magnet for uneducated or marginally educated young people. Similarly, Kohima has the maximum opportunities in terms of education and jobs in Nagaland, and is, understandably, popular with the young.
Smaller cities might have a larger proportion of young people than bigger ones, but the most number of young people continue to be clustered in the major metros or their suburbs. This is not surprising. Young people aspire most towards greater options and opportunities, and by their very size, larger cities are able to offer the largest menu of choices— for income and entertainment. The poor infrastructure in India’s smaller cities does not help matters, and this often chases away those who are going to build India’s future.
Demand Curve is a weekly column by research firm Indicus Analytics Pvt. Ltd on consumer trends and markets. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint