High-Level Event on the Demographic Dividend and Youth Employment

New York – 1 June 2015

Demographic Dividend and Youth Employment - 1 June 2015

The High-level event provided an opportunity for Member States and stakeholders to evaluate investments needed to reap the demographic dividend, including through employment opportunities for young people.

The concept of “demographic dividend” was conceived following the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. It came at a time when the world was focusing on the interplay between population structure changes, economic growth and development. The demographic contribution to accelerating economic growth became known as the demographic dividend.

The demographic dividend can be realized through three steps:

First, improvements in health status, especially of women and children, contribute to a decrease in the number of children born to each family. Improved child survival combined with fewer children, leads to a bulge – or increase – in the population’s successive contingent.

The second step of the dividend is the educational investment in the population bulge. As families have fewer children, they and the government have more resources to invest in the education of surviving children and women increasingly enter the labour force. Also, with fewer births each year, a country’s young dependent population declines in relation to the working-age population. There are therefore fewer people to support; giving families and the country opportunities to invest in quality education for the young.

The third and final step is to have an economic environment where the educated bulge can find well-paid, decent jobs. The demographic dividend provides a time-limited window of opportunity for growth if it coincides with strategic investments to enhance human capital and create an enabling environment for businesses to demand and deploy those skills efficiently and equitably.

If all three steps are successful and timed well, a first dividend is produced as a large youthful population moves into highly productive jobs boosting the family and national income.

The event consisted of:

  • A high level opening plenary,
  • Two high level interactive panel discussions, and
  • A closing plenary.

The panel discussions focused on particular themes and a set of questions to guide panelists and other participants as follows:

1st Panel Discussion – Theme: “How to harness the demographic dividend”


  1. What are the major reasons for the slow demographic transition in the least developed countries, and what can they do to speed up the demographic transition, and create conducive conditions for a demographic dividend?
  2. How can more advanced developing countries make better use of a window of opportunity before it closes?
  3. What are the principal obstacles to an active and productive participation of young people in the social, economic and political life of their communities and countries?
  4. What partnerships and strategies can support countries to take advantage of their youth bulge?

2nd Panel Discussion – Theme: “Lessons learned: What policies and measures are needed to create opportunities for youth employment”?


  1. Do we need to develop a more refined and comprehensive understanding of human capital development? What are the skills needed to meet the future labour market needs?
  2. What are the benefits and limits of using labour market and social protection policies to enhance synergies between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development?
  3. How can developing countries be supported in their initiatives to create a framework on demographic dividend to promote decent jobs for youth?
  4. What partnerships, strategies and best practices can facilitate conditions for boosting youth employment? What could be the main elements for a global strategy on youth employment?


Member States were invited to participate at the highest possible level; United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders will be invited.


The outcome is a President’s Summary PDF circulated to Member States and stakeholders.




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