Education trumps age-structure in terms of providing a demographic dividend | 6/10/2019 | Staff
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The relationship between population changes and economic growth has been a controversial topic among demographers for many years. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today challenges the dominant view that fertility decline and changes in age structure are key drivers of economic growth.

Global environmental change and discussions about the drivers of international migration have led to renewed interest in population growth and global demographic change. The notion of a demographic dividend is defined by the U.N. Population Fund as "the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population's age structure when the share of the working-age population is larger than the non-working-age share of the population." The definition was introduced to highlight the benefits of fertility decline. Among specifically African leaders, it is, however, also often interpreted as describing the benefits of their youthful populations.

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"After a focus on population growth, recent studies have paid more attention to changes in age structures and defined the notion of a demographic dividend as a window of opportunity that opens when falling birth rates lead to a relatively higher proportion of working age population," explains IIASA World Population Program Director, Wolfgang Lutz, lead author of the paper. "This has become the dominant paradigm in the field of population and development and an advocacy tool for highlighting the benefits of family planning and fertility decline."

Due to its controversial nature, the topic of population was not explicitly included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To address this, researchers from IIASA, the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, Vienna University of Economics and Business and the Vienna University of Technology tried to provide a systematic reassessment about what aspects of demographic change have beneficial consequences for economic growth and...
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