Dividend or Disaster? : What the global demographic challenge holds for us

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After World War II, our planet has undergone a demographic revolution. From 2.6 billion in 1950, we have become 7.7 billion. Where is this trend heading? As a result of high fertility rates in Sub-saharan Africa, the continent is expected to double its population by 2050. While this brings an abundant labour force, severe challenges of employment and public services are yet to be tackled. Other regions, particularly Europe, are facing the scenario of shrinking populations. The sore spot in this equation will be the reduction of Europe’s working age population, which will reflect in the economy and put existing welfare states to a test. So what do we make of these contrasting demographic developments? What is the expected economic impact? Do the welfare systems in Europe need to be fundamentally transformed? Or could migration be part of the solution? Can African countries achieve their development goals without addressing the fast population growth? Is it at all possible to achieve a demographic dividend?