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Population and development report

Development policy implications of age-structural transitions in Arab Countries

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This report shows that the Arab countries are currently undergoing profound age-structural transitions which will have significant implications for their development. It argues that countries can best manage and benefit from the consequences of the age structural transitions taking place across the Arab region by adopting a life course approach in analysis and policy. However, social and economic policies in the Arab countries have not succeeded in integrating this approach. This report therefore suggests reforms across social and economic policy areas, including labour market and social protection reforms, and suggests how the post-2015 UN Development Agenda can integrate a life course perspective. It brings a new urgency to the debate, arguing that transformational change is needed to integrate the needs and potentials of the different age groups in the Arab countries.

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Age-structural transitions in Arab countries

The countries of the Arab region are currently undergoing profound age-structural transitions which will have significant development implications both in the short and long term. All Arab countries are undergoing a shift from high to low rates of mortality and fertility; as a result, some countries have entered a demographic “window of opportunity” and several others will soon enter this stage. The window of opportunity is a period when the working-age population (age 15-64) grows faster than either the population of children (age 0-14) or older persons (age 65+), shifting the balance of the population from high levels of dependency to high levels of potential workers. This shift in age structure in turn creates the potential for Arab countries to benefit from a “demographic dividend”, namely increased economic productivity, savings and human capital development.

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