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Realizing the Demographic Dividend: Challenges and Opportunities for Ministers of Finance and Development


Vice President, Human Development Network, The World Bank

Policies to spur future job creation and economic growth are shaped by the age structure of a country’s population. Declining fertility, accelerated by investments in better health, family planning services, and gender equality, results in a smaller population at young dependent ages and a larger population of adults in the labor force, and then leads to a swelling in the ranks of the elderly. Through concrete policy actions in family planning, health, education, gender equality, and labor market policies, a number of countries have produced large and positive economic returns, referred to as the "Demographic Dividend." Most developing countries have a short window of opportunity to enact policies and promote investments that raise the human capital of young people while positioning them for greater economic productivity when they enter their working years. Demography need not be destiny, but failure of leadership to manage demographic change will guarantee lags in economic growth and increase the risk of social and political turbulence. On Sept 24, 2011, the World Bank hosted a live webcast discussion on this topic. Watch the archived webcast below.