It is the largest demographic transition ever experienced in human history. Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) working-age population will grow by more than 200% by 2050, providing a significant opportunity for economic growth in the region, economists from S&P Global Ratings said in a report released today. ‘hui.
“The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are undergoing the most significant demographic transition in their history. Unprecedented declines in fertility rates, a drop in infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy will be of crucial importance for the region’s economic prospects for decades to come, ”said Valerijs Rezvijs, economist by S&P Global Ratings. “The age composition of a country’s population is essential for economic growth. For the region, which has experienced poor economic performance over the past decade, the demographic transition may present a chance for stronger growth, but could also be a major source of instability and fragility. ”
By 2050, the working-age population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to more than double.
- S&P estimates this will add up to 3 percentage points to average annual GDP growth over the next 10 years among major sub-Saharan economies.
- However, the report says, at present, sub-Saharan Africa risks being insufficiently prepared to reap the rewards of this demographic transition and, without correct and timely policy responses, the region’s catching up with the economies. could take a long time.
In sub-Saharan Africa, fertility rates (number of children per woman during her lifetime) have fallen steadily to reach 4.6 in 2020 against 6.3 in 1990. According to recent UN projections, fertility in the region will continue to decline, and by 2050 some countries in sub-Saharan Africa will reach levels close to a natural replacement rate (2.1 births per woman). By 2050, with the exception of small island economies, such as Seychelles or Mauritius, all countries in sub-Saharan Africa will experience an increased share of the working-age population. As most of the rest of the world has already completed their demographic transition, sub-Saharan Africa will be the primary driver of the world’s working-age population growth in the 21st century.
In comparison, the average fertility rates in Southeast Asia and Latin America are expected to be around 1.85 by 2050 (up from 2.2 in 2020). The only region in the world that is expected to have fertility rates above the natural replacement rate is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), projected at 2.5 in 2050. The average fertility rate in income economies high is currently around 1.6 and is expected to stay around this value.
Note that with regard to sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is not uniform. While fertility rates are still falling sharply in South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia, some countries, including Nigeria, with rates above 5. According to UN projections, Nigeria is expected to reach a population of over 5. 400 million by 2050 (compared to 206 million in 2020), a rate that should be the fourth world.
Over the next 30 years, the working-age population in sub-Saharan Africa will more than double, with its working-age population growth accounting for 68% of total global growth. To reap the benefits of this demographic transition, governments in the region must judiciously adapt their economic policies. If jobs are not created alongside the growth of the working-age population, this could become a source of political instability due to high youth unemployment. Investments in human capital are needed so that families can use savings from falling birth rates to access better education for their children.
If banking services are not widely available and capital markets are not developed, an increase in savings will not necessarily correspond to an increase in investment or will not translate into increased productivity of labor and goods and more sophisticated services. “All in all, the demographic transition could be a source of unprecedented economic growth, but also unprecedented instability. At present, sub-Saharan Africa risks being insufficiently prepared to reap the benefits of the demographic transition. the situation could change quickly, ”Rezvijs said.