In a previous post, we began the discussion about the unprecedented one-time opportunity for jump-starting Africa’s economic growth. In this post we reveal what this is all about. How this can become a tangible reality. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and other similar countries have begun their journey of the Demographic Transition and it’s potential Demographic Dividend. They are undergoing a gradual change in the way their population age is structured. Why?
• Fertility is declining. Simply put, women are having fewer children because of better education, better family planning and other health services, and increased optimism about the survival of their born children.
• Many countries still have an older population that is comparatively small in number, because the life expectancy, or number of years people are expected to survive, is still relatively short.
• Because of the two factors above, many of these countries are beginning to experience a middle bulge in their population structure, in which young working age adults are gradually becoming the largest part of their population.
This process is called Demographic Transition. When the young work force is the largest segment within a country’s population, and is larger than the dependent population (the old and the children), a country is presented with a one-time opportunity for increased economic activity. It is a one-time opportunity for more resources to be wisely invested in children, young people and the economy. This investment will in turn bring about great progress and economic growth.
This transition period is not indefinite. It lasts for only approximately 20-50 years. Some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have just commenced their transition, and others may follow soon. Each country needs to understand its stage in this all-important transition. Each country needs to understand how much time it has to invest in its youth population during its transition window of opportunity. Each young person needs to be fully aware of this critical need for investments which will ensure their empowerment and result in great benefits for their countries and themselves. Do you know your country’s stage in its transition?
The successful completion of the transition to the point where the country begins to reap economic benefits is known as the Demographic Dividend. We will discuss this concept in detail in the next post. Stay with us.