In 2010, I asked the following question on one of my blogs: “Can rapid population growth be good for economic development?“ It quickly became the most read blog in the history of the World Bank, as it was part of a wider debate. At the time, most people still believed that the world had an “overpopulation problem” and adhered to some version of the Malthus theorem or Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” theory. However, a handful of people said Hans Rosling, Shanta Devarajan, And I have seen a very different story emerge from the data.
In our view, “overpopulation camps” misinterpret the results of population growth because it misinterprets the sources of that growth. Currently, the main driver of population growth is not high fertility (as in the past) but longevity growth, especially in emerging market areas. For example, population growth–Underpinned by “Adult Admission,” Hans Rosling calls it that–Not a symptom of underdevelopment but just the opposite.
Skeptics also erred in assuming that more adults would have higher unemployment, assuming that more people would compete for less existing jobs. However, this “Fixed cake mistake” The scale is not responsible for the work of the economy and the labor market. Let’s look at South Africa and Japan and explain that point. The same number of children (ages 0-14) in both countries, about 15 million in Japan and about 17 million in South Africa.. Although Japan has 110 Millions of adults (15+) in South Africa have an unemployment rate of ten times higher (30 percent) than in Japan (3 percent), compared to 43 million in South Africa. Clearly, South Africa has an unemployment problem, but it is not driven by population (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Population and employment: the story of two countries
Source: World Bank (2021), World Development Index, World Data Lab (2022) World Data Pro; International Labor Organization. (2020). ILOSTAT Database [country profiles].
Today, if anyone has a demographic problem, It is an advanced economy where opinion makers prefer Elon Musk Concerned we will soon face a shortage of skilled workers And ultimately the risk of our species surviving. Almost everywhere means a rapid decline in fertility Number of children worldwide (ages 0-14) is expected to shrinkFrom a little below 2 BMillions Today about 1.8 BMillions By 2050. The total number of children in Asia is expected to decrease by 220 MMillions (From 1.076) BMillions From 855 MMillions) The rest of the world will have 40 MMillions Fewer children (a fall from 353) MMillions From 312 MMillions) The only exception is Africa, which will add about 100 MMillions Children (from 550) MMillions From 650 MMillions) To the world’s population By 2050. Indeed, throughout Africa, the number of children is still growing by a relatively 1 Percent Every year–Compared to a wonderful 2.7 Percent “Adult growth”–As a result of the overall population growth of 2 Percent. If Africa followed that path rOf est world Since 2000, there will be about 250 MMillions Fewer children in the world by 2050 (see Figure 2). Then the world will be just a house Nearby 1.5 BMillions Children (a 25 Percent Less than 2000), Which will raise many more alarm bells among those concerned About “Population” of oYour planet
Figure 2. Children of the world: the fall of Asia, the rise of Africa
Source: Projection based on Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital, (2018). Wittgenstein Center Data Explorer version 2.0.
With improved health and sanitation, Population of Africa Growth will be even higher Short to medium term. I believe this is a good thing, Since this population growth is driven by adults. The African economy could benefit from one Education dividends Since a larger team of parents invests more (resources and attention) in lesser children. Instead, African kids as “skills” Up ”and gain access to the digital value chain, They will have the opportunity to work in business services. In an optimistic situation, this Education dividends Eventually there will be a result Job dividends. If so, the projected world population imbalances could become an opportunity for Africa. Companies Need talent Find Francophone and Anglophone native speakers just a click away. Investing in Africa will help Both Development and bottom Line