This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Gates Foundation Looks at the Demographics of Extreme Poverty

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just released this year's "Goalkeepers" report and the focus is on helping children living in areas of extreme poverty. The world needs for these youngsters to grow up healthy and well-educated--not an easy task, but certainly a possible one.
Today’s booming youth populations can be good news for the economy; if young people are healthy, educated, and productive, there are more people to do the kind of innovative work that stimulates rapid growth. This helps explain the amazing progress of the past generation in most of the world, and it is the key to spreading that progress everywhere.
This progress has come in waves. The first wave centered on China; the second wave centered on India. As a result of successes in Asia, the geography of poverty is changing: extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan African countries. By 2050, that’s where 86 percent of the extremely poor people in the world are projected to live. Therefore, the world’s priority for the next three decades should be a third wave of poverty reduction in Africa.
One of the obstacles the continent faces is rapid population growth. Africa as a whole is projected to nearly double in size by 2050, which means that even if the percentage of poor people on the continent is cut in half, the number of poor people stays the same. Even so, for most African countries, the outlook is positive. For example, Ethiopia, once the global poster child for famine, is projected to almost eliminate extreme poverty by 2050.
As I read the report, I was instantly put in mind of the population projections made over the years by Wolfgang Lutz and his group at the Vienna Institute of Demography that have demonstrated the pretty amazing demographic consequences of education, especially when it equally includes boys and girls and is, of course, taught by well-qualified people. Investing in young people is, as the Gates reports says, an investment in the future of these countries because these are the people who are going to have to be change-makers at the local and regional levels.

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