“The demographic dividend is about inclusive growth, not just economic growth,” says Jagdish Upadhyay, chief of commodity security at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in this week’s podcast. “If it’s not inclusive, achieving the demographic dividend will be difficult.”
Upadhyay argues that countries wanting to seize the economic potential of having a disproportionate number of workers compared to dependents need to understand that it won’t happen unless young people are better prepared and engaged. “We see that about 60 countries are waiting for the demographic dividend,” Upadhyay says. “And if you don't talk about empowerment of young people, and that kind of inclusive development, then we will miss this generation that we are working on.”
Upadhyay makes the case that high quality, comprehensive, and gender-disaggregated data is necessary to connect access to family planning and increased empowerment to sustainable and economic growth. By illustrating the impacts of demographic change, Upadhyay says it easier to show economic and finance ministries how “you are losing your economic growth if you don't do these things.” He cites USAID’s estimate that maternal and newborn mortality leads to $15 billion in lost in potential productivity globally every year as an example.
The “economy will not be successful,” says Upadhyay, “if we cannot empower young people, if they cannot plan their pregnancy, if they cannot complete their education.”
Jagdish Upadhyay spoke at the Wilson Center on December 8.