E.g., 08/01/2014
E.g., 08/01/2014

Demographic and Human-Capital Trends in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa

Reports
November 2008

Demographic and Human-Capital Trends in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa

In the next two decades, the world will face two major — and opposing — demographic challenges: rapid population growth and rapid population aging. In an increasingly economically interdependent world, policymakers will simultaneously face a strain on resources caused by population growth and a shortage of labor spurred by the graying of the population.

This paper, based on new data created by the authors, will help inform decision making by forecasting population trends in Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, regions that epitomize this demographic phenomenon’s two disparate poles.

While sub-Saharan Africa will grow faster than any other part of the world in the next century, resulting in a population explosion that will boost the workforce, Eastern Europe will shrink the most quickly. The silver lining in Europe’s graying workforce may be that population decline could be compensated to some degree by increases in human capital. One of population growth’s most important ramifications is its inverse correlation with educational attainment. While the Eastern European population is expected to decline steadily, educational attainment among its working-age population will increase at the same time, which is likely to lead to higher per capita productivity.

Education is a key part of the picture in Africa, too. While high population growth will expand the labor force, it will not boost economic growth unless education is expanded commensurately. A scenario of rapid population increases without parallel growth in education would precipitate a serious humanitarian and development crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. Human-capital trends and demographic trends must be taken into account when we speculate on future migration patterns to and from these regions.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction: A Demographically Divided World

II. Long-Term Demographic and Human-Capital Trends in Eastern Europe

III. Long-Term Demographic and Human-Capital Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa

IV. Implications for Future Migration Pull and Push Factors to Europe