WASHINGTON, October 22, 2015 — The population in Africa is
rapidly expanding, and by 2060 the region will hold an estimated 2.8
billion people. With the right policies and actions, countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa can reap a tremendous demographic dividend from this
growth to propel an economic takeoff, according to a new World Bank
The report, Africa’s Demographic Transition: Dividend or Disaster?
notes that demographic change such as population growth and a reduction
in the number of dependent youth, can have a deep impact on a
country’s economic growth and the well-being of families. The report
lays out anagenda for African countries that can increase the likelihood
of capturing the potential social and economic benefits from population
growth to create a demographic dividend in Sub-Saharan Africa.
same time, it poses a challenging dilemma if the right policies and
actions are not implemented judiciously.
“The growth in Africa’s working-age population will be relentless and
inevitable,” said Punam Chuhan-Pole, acting chief economist for the
World Bank Africa region. “The good news is that with the right policies
and actions today, countries can accelerate the region’s transition to
smaller families, healthier and better-educated youth, and an expanded
job market if policymakers make the right decisions.”
For the past 15 years, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have
experienced impressive and sustained economic growth and development.
Child mortality has dropped in most countries and fertility rates, or
the number of children born per woman, have significantly been cut for
educated women living in urban areas.
Throughout the region, however,
fertility remains stubbornly high, with an average of 5.4 children born
per women in 2005–2010, and down from 6.5 children per woman in
The slow decline in fertility in Africa will likely result in a
rapidly growing population, with estimates showing that the region will
become a much larger part of the world population. By 2060 there will be
about 10 billion people in the world—5.2 billion in Asia, 2.8 billion
in Africa, 1.3 billion in the Americas, 0.7 billion in Europe, and 0.1
billion in the rest of the world.
How will this population boom impact African countries? The answer
depends on how each country responds today with policies, the report
says. Policy choices and actions can transform the population of a
nation into a healthy, educated, empowered labor force that can
contribute to real and sustained economic growth that lifts people out
of poverty, according to the report.
The report contrasts the demographic changes in Africa with those in
East Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. For example, from 1975 to
2010, East Asia experienced a rapid decline in fertility that reduced
youth dependency and at the same time increased the number of
working-age people (16–64 years old). The resulting demographic was 1.5
workers per new birth in the early years, hitting a peak of 2.5 workers
per birth over 35 years....continue reading...