Demographic Dividend in Bangladesh
বাংলাদেশে জনসংখ্যা বোনাস
Demographic Dividend in Bangladesh
An estimated 43 percent of people around the globe are under the age of 25. Investing in young people is critical for seizing the demographic dividend. South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand experienced spectacular economic growth during the second half of the 20th century, much of which was due to the demographic dividend. The economy of Bangladesh has been showing improvement. Therefore, Bangladesh can take full advantage of the demographic dividend. However, many developing countries, including Bangladesh will not be able to achieve this economic benefit without appropriate policies and substantial investments in a number of areas.
The demographic dividend is the economic growth resulting from the country’s declining mortality and fertility and subsequent changes in the age structure of the population. A demographic dividend occurs when the majority of the population is of working age and can contribute to the country’s economy.
Economists have identified four achievable ways the benefits from demographic dividend. The first is the increased labour supply; however, the magnitude of this benefit will depend on the ability of the economy to absorb and productively employ the additional workers. The second is increased savings (resulting from a reduced dependency ratio). The third is human capital. The fourth is the increase in domestic demand resulting from the rise in per capita income and the reduced dependency ratio.
As per the latest population census, 33% of our population now belong to the age group 0-14 years, while 18.8% population belong to the age group 15-24 years and 37.6% belong to the age group 25-54 years. It means that, after 15 years, most of our population will be in the workforce. Surely, we can take advantage from this transition.
However, there are some challenges related to those seemingly favourable demographics. The first is finding jobs for all these people. Second, and more importantly, our young people will need to develop the right skills for the modern job market. The critical question is are we ready? How well are we prepared for the ‘demographic dividend”?
How does the demographic dividend help?
The demographic dividend is delivered through several mechanisms such as:
The generations of children born during periods of high fertility, have finally crossed the dependent years and can become technically trained workers. Now women have fewer children than before; they are able to take jobs outside the home; they also have the trend to be better educated than older cohorts and they are, therefore, more productive in the labour force.
The adult working class tends to earn more and can save more money than the very young. The shift away from a very young age distribution favours greater personal and national savings. Personal savings grow and serve as a partial resource for industrial investments that fuel economic growth.
Having fewer children improves the health of women. Their participation in the labour force develops their social status and personal independence. Parents are under less strain to provide economic support to many children.
Family income can be focused more upon better food for infants, including girls who are often given less to eat. Incomes can be utilized for higher education for teenagers of both sexes to improve their life prospects.
Encash demographic dividend in Bangladesh
Favourable policies are required to encash demographic dividends in Bangladesh. The demographic dividends are not automatic. To realize the dividends, Bangladesh will need educated, healthy and productive labour force. These partly depend on the policies of the government to build human capital, create favorable environment for investment and encourage savings. The following issues need special attention:
– A high share of working-age people (both male and female) is beneficial if
only those people are employed. If they are unemployed, the outcome will likely be problematic. Labour market policies must encourage employment. In this regard open economies, flexible labour forces and modem institutions that can gain the confidence of the people and markets alike may help countries reap the potential benefit created by their demographic transition.
– Women who are educated are more likely to work outside the home and, they are increasing the size of labour force and the potential for economic development. Enforcing policies that enable girls to go to school and equip them with skills to complete for higher-paying jobs, is an important step
toward gender equity that also fosters economic growth. – Sound macroeconomic management is the key issue. An economy that has persistently high inflation is unlikely to be able to take the best possible advantage of a large segment of working age people.
– Many countries have benefited by expanding their exports and a large working age population can benefit by having a country’s products in the external market. Nevertheless, imports, unless carefully handled, have the potential to wreak havoc with the lives of millions of workers and their families. – Relationship with other countries and with international financial institutions will determine the future external resource generation and can
be important for extending economic growth. – Appropriate infrastructure, logistics and legitimacy are required at government institutions.
However, demographic dividend depends on the policies the country chooses and on its political and economic relationships with rest of the world. The political leaders have to move fast to formulate an education strategy and comprehensive economic plan to capture the once-in-lifetime opportunity.
Demographic dividend: an opportunity for Bangladesh
Bangladesh is now in the third stage of the demographic transition. It is projected that Bangladesh’s population has reached its replacement level of fertility rate (TFR = 2.2) by 2015. It is estimated that the dependency ratio will decline from 0.55 in 2011 to 0.45 in the next fifteen years in Bangladesh. If this opportunity is duly utilized, there is a greater potential for demographic dividend through increased savings and investment for faster economic growth in the country.
In other words, the demographic dividend is a rise in the rate of economic growth due to a rising share of the working-age population in the country. This usually occurs late in the demographic transition when the fertility rate falls and the youth dependency rate declines. During this demographic window of opportunity, output per capita rises.
Because of declining population growth and consequent changes in age structure, the proportion of the working-age population is increasing and offering a window of opportunity, referred to as the demographic dividend. The demographic dividend leads to opportunities for growth in output per capita due to the increasing proportion of the working-age groups in the total population, increasing the ratio of producers to consumers.
Although the demographic transition creates the demographic dividend, it also brings significant challenges with it. Among these are the areas of education, health, nutrition, housing, food, social and political unrest, the status of women and employment. The potential gains from the demographic dividend will be at risk due to continuing poverty and poor living standards. It should be noted that demographic dividend is not pre-arranged. Rather it is an opportunity provided by the age structural transition, Meeting future challenges depend on the ability to take advantage of the window of opportunity offered for a plausibly short period for once in a lifetime with pertinent economic and social policies.
Economic returns are not the role function of demographic dividends. Three interconnected mechanisms are responsible for a demographic dividend, resulting in economic return: labour supply, savings and human capital. All these mechanisms, however, depend on the external and internal economic settings and policies related to the environment of the country.
Bangladesh will enter the best period for realizing the demographic dividend, with the lowest levels of combined child and adult dependence in its history. The golden period will last until around 2033 when the more burdensome adult dependency reaches significant proportions. If the golden years are not used to achieve economic growth and build a good social security system, Bangladesh will face the demographic danger or the demographic time bomb.
Changes in age structure and a decline in fertility are necessary for the demographic dividend. These changes do not happen automatically, but governments, donors and policy-makers can set themselves up to seize the dividend through a series of forward-thinking policy and funding decisions.
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