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Summary of Harnessing the Demographic Dividend: The Future We Want for Zambia

This study assesses prospects of harnessing the demographic dividend in Zambia and demonstrates policy options for optimizing chances of earning the demographic dividend.

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This report would be beneficial to those wishing to understand Zambia’s potential in harnessing its demographic dividend to better inform programming and policy, as well as those looking to gain a better understanding of relevant demographic, economic, and human capital trends in Zambia.

Methodology: The study uses a mixed methodology approach, including a review of the literature on the demographic dividend, population dynamics and economic changes in Zambia, reviews of the trends in national demographic and socio-economic indicators derived from various national data sources, and modelling using DemDiv to demonstrate the potential demographic dividend that Zambia can earn under different policy and investment scenarios.  

Key Findings: The study shows that Zambia’s demographic indicators and emerging economic opportunities can be turned into a sizable demographic dividend by 2053, which can propel the country to surpass the socio-economic transformation targets envisaged in its Vision 2030.

  1. Population and Age Structure Changes:
    The Business as Usual and Economic Emphasis scenarios would lead to a total fertility rate of 4.09 children per woman and a total population of 49 million people by 2053. The dependency burden will marginally decrease from 0.96 in 2013 to 0.79 in 2053.
    Under the Combined Scenario, however, the total fertility rate would be 2.11 and the population size 36 million by 2053.
  2. Working Age Population and Job Creation Challenge:
    All the four policy scenarios will see a significant increase in the size of the working age population aged 15 years and above. Under the Business as Usual and Economic Emphasis scenarios, this population will increase from 7.8 million in 2013 to 30 million in 2053. For the Moderate Scenario, the number will increase to 28 million, while under the Combined Scenario, it will increase to 26 million.
  3. Change in Economic Growth and Average Incomes:
    Of the four scenarios, the Combined Scenario, in which the country simultaneously prioritizes economic, social and demographic factors to achieve the socio-economic transformation envisaged in Vision 2030, is most ideal for the country. The other three would either not lead Zambia to industrialized middle-income country development levels (Business As Usual) or involve high risk without investing in the social development sectors (Economic Emphasis).  

Conclusion: To transform and transition into an industrialized nation, Zambia must adopt policies that will harness the demographic dividend. The country should concurrently prioritize investments to initiate rapid fertility decline, improve human capital, reform the economy to create adequate, decent jobs, and enhance good governance and accountability.

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