Eli5:Why do countries in Asia have such high populations and high population densities?


Eli5:Why do countries in Asia have such high populations and high population densities?

In: 6

Specifically China, India, and Bangladesh

They marry young instead of focusing on careers like the west, women lose 90% of their eggs by the age of 29/30.

AKA more kids per family.

The warm and rainy climate allows for multiple yearly crops of rice, which is a very calorie dense staple food, meaning it can feed way more people per square hectare than wheat or corn. I’m sure there are other social/cultural reasons, but this is mainly what allowed their population to be particularly large to begin with, even before modern technology and the XX century population boom started.

it also does not help about the culture of extended family and of you’re not married by 20’s you are a failure as a human being.

also in 3rd countries like hours where it’s hot, plenty of poor people that are lazy and have nothing better to do, the only past time they can do is have sex and make babies and let their parents shoulder raising it because, hey I have a extended family i could leech on.


I’m asian living in a 3rd world country that looks like a sitting dog with a big head looking out to the moon.

China and India are some of the oldest permanent settlements on Earth. Compared to the Middle East and Egypt India and China had much more hospitable temperatures and much more available farmland.

So while the populations of Egypt for example boomed and then stalled when they ran out of land in the Nile delta, China and India just continued to boom.

Europe meanwhile had a very large population that has suffered from several big declines. The Black death set back Europe a couple hundred years in terms of population killing upwards of 30-50% of the population.

While WW1 and WW2 were both devastating to the civilian population and killed off a significant number of young males.

But the most recent population booms are the result of advances in medicine. Most people in North America are shocked to discover that the average infant mortality rate for humans is around 20%.

As recently as the 1950’s families in North America (particularly rural families) would lose as many as 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 of their children before the age of 4. My Dad’s family lost 3/7 kids, and my Moms lost 2/7. This would have included my Mom as well, but she had the fortune of being the first kid in the family born in a hospital and the Doctors saved her from dying from contaminated baby formula when she was only 2 months old.

With wide spread access to hospitals this figure has dropped drastically. In North America and Europe the average family is having less kids due to factors like easier access to birth control, Secondary Education and careers pushing people to have families later in life, etc

While in India and China the governments and religions were pushing families to have as many kids as possible. With medical care saving the lives of nearly 20% of those kids the populations exploded.

EDIT: The population in China then exploded so much that they had to introduce the one-child policy

I’m not sure it’s quite that simple though you are obviously not wrong. Compare those countries density to some in Europe for example.

China 153 per km2

U.K. 281 per km2

India 464 per km2

Netherlands 508 per km2

Bangladesh 1265 per km2

Malta 1642 per km2

By the way..

Monaco 19361 per km2

China and India certainly do have huge populations … head and shoulders over the rest – though the USA is number three ( but far behind). To be fair they are all also amongst the largest countries in the world. However , some of the largest are far less populated Russia, Canada and Australia though I’m not sure whether they have proportionately less easily inhabitable land at all?

But population is going to be linked to culture, economics , female emancipation and health care which themselves tend to be linked. Some cultures look upon large families as important , wealthier countries tend to have lower birth rates , countries in which women can join the work force and have reproductive rights will also have lower birth rates , and in countries with high birth rates an existing system of basic effective health care will ensure they survive.

I’m thinking that also perhaps its that a country with 100 people and a country with 1000 people – there’s 900 difference. People pair up and have two kids each and you have 200 and 2000 a difference of 1800. So to some extent there’s a self fulfilling difference in growing populations? And perhaps if the advent of agriculture allowed growth that didn’t happen in societies before that – countries that also have been populated and had agriculture for longer will have had more time and impetus for population growth?

That’s a mix of lots of ideas that could be factors.

India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, South China have reasonably good terrain, long planting seasons, regular rainfall and/or good river systems. (or even consider the Nile river and Egypt) This kind of land can grow a lot of food to support their population. In agriculturally intensive economies that are not rich, children are an asset because they start helping out on the farm or cooking very early (like 7-10 year old). So more children, more secure food supply. Add to that modern medicine have resulted in much longer average lifetimes in the last 70 years. This leads to very large population growth over the last 50-60 years.

Urbanization due to industrialization and greater access to education (especially women) almost always leads to smaller families and fewer children. Children are now more of a burden as they go to school until they’re 17-18 and it costs a lot more to feed and educate them.

So, in countries like China, Japan, S Korea which have rapidly industrialized birth rates have fallen off the cliff and populations have either peaked or very close to peaking. Bangladesh and India have seen birth rates fall dramatically and probably hit peak population within 40-50 years if trends continue.

The less energy you need to spend growing food the better. The river valleys in India, China, and SEA were able to grow more with less for thousands of years. This resulted in large and old civilizations where people just kind of added up over the years

Oppression of women.. Education (specifically education of woman) is the quickest and easiest way to bring birth rate down.

Historically, the Fertile Crescent was in this area. This was the best agricultural land, possibly in the world. So better farming meant more population could specialize and therefore grow a civilization with specialized workers. So these areas also became the wealthiest.

A decent starting point for reading about this is guns, germs, steel by Jared diamond (excellent archeology, terrible understanding politics). The difference between how many animals could be tamed and domesticated, how easily certain crops could spread, and so on is interesting. Where that falls down is in the colonial period. Agriculture is no longer as important.

Before colonization, the Indian subcontinent was about as wealthy as the whole of Europe (in terms of gdp). China was as well. These areas have historically been far more important in total share of wealth and population. Partly cos of the farming land and what was available during this time. ‘Civilization’ spread from Africa to Asia to Europe and so on. So they’ve had a heady stay, historically, on the rest of the world.

In Europe, or European colonies (inc usa and Canada) we don’t tend to hear these histories. Everything’s focused on the Roman Empire or the Greeks. They were small by comparison tho.

In terms of population, now into the modern era, eli5 would be there are far more slums. The particular kinds of development and government there have incentivized certain kinds of development and dependence especially, so that poor workers live mostly in an informal economy, often as family drivers and maids and other domestic servants. In the country I live in, these workers were only relatively recently given a minimum wage and it’s now half the minimum wage of other workers. And of course is below poverty wages.

So when you have these types of development, especially a large mass dependent upon a rich elite, you have higher densities of population. Which is why the Philippines and India have the highest population densities in their cities.