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Once-in-a-Species Opportunity: For a World Free of Poverty, Seize the Demographic Dividend in Africa”

April 12, 2013  • Laurie Mazur

This article was originally posted on New Security Beat.

A world “free from the stain of poverty” is within our grasp, declared World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a speech at Georgetown University last week. Kim then announced a plan to virtually eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

It is a breathtakingly ambitious goal, and its success will hinge, in part, on whether today’s low-income countries can take advantage of something called the “demographic dividend,” according to panelists at an event hosted by the Aspen Institute last week. 

The demographic dividend is an economic boost that follows when mortality and birthrates fall – if the right policies and investments are in place. In Africa, where two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day and birthrates are still high but falling in many places, harnessing the dividend is “not just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, chief economist for the World Bank’s Africa Region, “it is a once-in-a-species opportunity.”


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