If countries do not start planning for this demographic change, they will miss out on a unique opportunity to boost growth and investments for the future, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest Regional Human Development Report. They also risk a surge in youth frustration, exacerbating instability and conflict.
The report, entitled “Shaping the Future: How Changing Demographics Can Power Human Development”, notes that Asia-Pacific countries now have more working-aged people and fewer dependents than at any point in history, providing a springboard for growth. Region-wide, 68 percent of people are of working age and only 32 percent are dependents.
“When countries have a greater share of people who can work, save and pay taxes, they have the potential to transform their economies and power investments in healthcare, education and other building blocks of future prosperity,” said Thangavel Palanivel, lead author of the report.
The report calls for immediate responses and outlines “9 Actions for Sustainable Development”. These are concrete policies tailored to the demographic profile of individual countries.
For states with a large working-aged population, UNDP is calling for the creation of decent jobs to match the growing workforce, equal employment for women, and ways to turn savings into investments inside the region.“Growth, employment and migration in the west are inextricably linked to what happens in the east,” said Haoliang Xu. “The sun rises here, but its effects are soon felt on the other side of the world.”
There is no one solution for every country, but the region’s diversity provides room for south-south cooperation. Governments need to share experiences on long-term fiscal planning, including the sustainable use of tax revenue. Cooperation can also encourage safe migration from younger to older countries within the region and reduce the desperate flight of migrants to Europe.
“With 50 years of expertise and offices in 24 countries in Asia-Pacific, UNDP is ideally placed to help implement the ‘9 Actions for Sustainable Development’,” said Haoliang Xu. “We can facilitate partnerships combining domestic, international, public and private funding and expertise on youth, ageing, migration, social protection, climate change and disaster risk management, governance, urbanization and technology transfer. Please Click here to read the Japanese version
In a country where young people constitute a high percentage of the population, their success or failure will have a clear impact on society en masse. The number of Iraq’s children and youth increasing at an unprecedented rate. In
2010, Iraq had 5.1 million children and 6 million young people. These numbers are expected to run as high as 6.7 million and 9.6 million respectively in 2025, and 8.9 million and 14.9 million respectively in 2050.
This report is important given the data of the demographic window – that period of time in a nation’s demographic transition when the proportion of the working age population is particularly prominent for a decade or more – which has become of interest to states. It is an opportunity to realize development in Iraq, though this is conditioned on the positive response of the country’s socio-economic policies. Advancement is not guaranteed, as the
demographic window can be transformed into an element of social relapse, short-lived economic growth, increased unemployment, and a disintegrated labor market, which can trigger a raft of problems if proper development policies and strategies are not in place.
National awareness of youth issues is on the rise at various policy- and decision- making levels. There is also general awareness of the important role of this social group. Despite the growing interest in youth issues after 2003, however, the projects designed to empower and integrate the youth and engage them in development priorities, plans, and strategies have been impeded by violence and instability.
Through factual analysis and the integration of the vision and priorities of Iraqi youth, this report develops an integrated structure that combines youth issues with various dimensions of the development process. This will help to develop policies that address the role of the youth in the current and future human development process. And what makes the recommendations of this report even more important is that many of them reflect a reality that our youth teams and field work groups have explored through interviewing young Iraqis of different genders, ethnicities, education levels, and social and geographical backgrounds.