The Shape of Things to Come – Why Age Structure Matters To A Safer, More Equitable World

  Updated Report available: The Shape of Things to Come: The Effects of Age Structure on Development

By Elizabeth Leahy with Robert Engelman, Carolyn Gibb Vogel, Sarah Haddock and Tod Preston

What follows is the result of more than two years of research and analysis. From this work, we conclude that population age structure can have a significant impact on countries’ stability, governance, economic development and the well-being of its people. Most importantly, we find that age structures are dynamic and can be influenced—and shaped—through policies that affect the demographic forces (i.e. births, deaths and migration) that determine these age structures.

In looking to the future and the shape of things to come, this means that programs that promote the demographic transition—family planning, girls’ education, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment–must be an integral part of development assistance. Extreme poverty, disease, inadequate health care, and lack of educational and economic opportunity—particularly for women—all pose risks, both in terms of human well-being and in state security.

Collectively, we must do more to support developing nations as they move along the path to universal access to family planning and the protection of individual rights. These modest investments can pay enormous dividends, as has been shown in the development of the Asian Tiger nations in East Asia. With one-half of the world’s population under the age of 30, and one-half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa under age 20, the needs are great and time is of the essence.

Table of Contents

Chapter Two: Very Young Structures
Chapter Three: Youthful Structures
Chapter Four: Transitional Structures
Chapter Five: Mature Structures
Chapter Six: Subtypes and a Speculative Structure
Chapter Seven: Things to Come: Demographic Possibilities