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Home - Global Challenges - Population


Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa
Economic security, health and disability, and living conditions in old age are policy concerns throughout the world, but the nature of the problem differs considerably from continent to continent and between and within countries. In sub-Saharan Africa older people make up a relatively small fraction of the total population, and traditionally their main source of support has been the household and family, supplemented in many cases by other informal resources, such as kinship networks and mutual aid societies. Although very little careful empirical research has been undertaken on long-term trends in the welfare of older people, there are a number of reasons to believe that traditional caring and social support mechanisms in sub-Saharan Africa are under increasing strain. The report Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Furtherring Research (2006, PDF 2.1 MB) provides recommendations for a research agenda, for enhancing research opportunity and implementation, and for translation of research findings.

Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries
The transition to adulthood is a critical stage of human development during which young people leave childhood behind and take on new roles and responsibilities. The nature and quality of young people’s future lives depend on how successfully they negotiate the passage through this critical period. Concerns about how global forces are altering the transition to adulthood are all the more urgent because of the changing demographic profile of many developing countries. By 2005, the world’s population of 10- to 24-year-olds was estimated to be 1.5 billion. Despite dramatic progress in certain areas, many young people still lack adequate schooling and good health—both of which are essential for ensuring their productivity and well-being. The report Growing Up Global (2005) examines the changing transition to adulthood in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on gender, and the policy implications of these changes.

Cities Transformed: Demographic Change and Its Implications in the Developing World
Virtually all of the growth in the world's population for the foreseeable future will take place in the cities and towns of the developing world. Over the next 20 years, most developing countries will for the first time become more urban than rural. The benefits from urbanization cannot be overlooked, but the speed and sheer scale of this transformation present many challenges. A new cast of policy makers is emerging to take up the responsibilities of urban governance, as many national governments decentralize. Programs in poverty, health, education, and public services are increasingly being deposited in the hands of untested municipal and regional governments. Demographers have been surprisingly slow to devote attention to the implications of the urban transformation. Drawing from a wide variety of data sources, many of them previously inaccessible, the report Cities Transformed (2006) explores the implications of various urban contexts for marriage, fertility, health, schooling, and children's lives.

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