Empower, Educate, and Employ Youth to Realize the Demographic Dividend

“There are different approaches to looking at the benefits of education in the context of the demographic dividend, said Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue of Cornell University. In the classic approach, there are the inputs and outputs of education – for example, changes in fertility correlate to educational outcomes, and educational outcomes then correlate to work and earnings.

A different approach is to view education as an institution that interacts more dynamically with the institutions of family and work. We ought not to view demographic transitions simply as changes in family size, but rather as a social transformation in families, education, and work, Eloundou-Enyegue said. For instance, as families become smaller and as educational opportunities increase, there may be changes in the norms of parenting and parental expectations of children that affect their experiences in school. Those experiences in school then feedback to preferences and decisions about family size, as well as shape expectations for the transition from school to work.

Countries can respond to such changes, Eloundou-Enyegue said, by shaping education and employment opportunities accordingly. Schools can take a more proactive role in supporting the transition from school to work, focusing on skills that are most important to the kind of students they are seeing (e.g., those from smaller families) and the kinds of economic opportunities that are likely to arise for them.”

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