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Demographic facts – or fictions?

September 10th, 2006 · No Comments · Eduspaces

A couple of slides in Karl Fisch’s presentation Did You Know got me thinking. The slides claim that the 25% most intelligent Chinese outnumber the entire North American population. The figure for India is the top 28% in intelligence. Put another way, India and China could soon have potentially more graduates than North America has people. I’d like to check this but I am not sure how. Karl’s notes to the presentation just seem to refer to a Web search and him ‘doing the math’. I’d like to do a similar calculation for the European Community.

As a quick and dirty approach I have consulted the CIA World Factbook to get 2006 population figures. This tells us the EC has a total population of 457 million compared with China (1,314 million) and India (1,095 million). It also gives age breakdowns, 0 to 14, 15 to 64, and 65 and over. Comparing the 0 to 14 aged groups, this is 74 million in the EC and 274 million in China and 338 million in India.

Assuming all things to be equal (and they are certainly not at the moment) and that 25% of this age group are theoretically capable of graduating from a UG programme, then the EC has 18.5 million potential graduates, China 68.5 million and India 84.5 million. India and China could produce over 8 graduates for each EC graduate. From their school kids they could produce twice as many graduates as we have kids!

Of course the assumption that only 25% of children are capable of graduating is arbitrary. At one time our government’s target was to get 50% to this standard. And at the moment there are massive obstacles in India and China to education for millions. Many theoretically potential graduates in India and China simply don’t have and will not have for sometime presumably access to UG level education. All this could change. And it should give us and our students pause for thought.


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