The Demographic Window of Opportunity and Economic Growth at the Sub-National Level in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lamar Crombach, ETH Zürich KOF
Jeroen Smits, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

This paper uses a cross-sectional dataset including 329 sub-national regions of 39 Sub-Saharan African countries to investigate the effect of the demographic transition on economic growth at the sub-national level in Sub-Saharan African countries. Changes in age structures are important, because different age groups display different behavior. Fertility reduction may allow a region to reap the demographic dividend during the demographic window of opportunity (DWO), characterized by a large share of workers relative to dependents. The DWO consists of six distinct phases. The empirical basis of the DWO literature is biased towards growth in middle-income countries. The literature has also focused on the national level. The preliminary analysis shows that, at the sub-national level, the youth dependency ratio and the level of life expectancy are important determinants of the growth rate, while the old dependency ratio and population growth are not determinants of economic growth. Education has no robust effects.

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  Presented in Session 25. Conditions Necessary for African Countries to Harness the Dividend and Costs of Inaction