Aging in Africa: Past Trends and Future Implications

Lara Cleveland, University of Minnesota
Matthew Sobek, University of Minnesota
Steven Ruggles, University of Minnesota

In the second half of the twentieth century, many countries underwent a shift from high fertility and short life expectancy to much smaller families and longer survival. These changes lead directly to population aging. In the short run, the transition is producing a “demographic dividend” as the relative number of dependent children declines. This period will be brief; as twentieth-century birth cohorts enter old age, the expanding older dependent population will increasingly strain social resources. This paper describes changes in population aging at sub-national levels among countries in Africa using census samples available through IPUMS. Growing inequality within and between countries and regions has left many behind, and the aging population is especially vulnerable. We intend this descriptive paper as a catalyst to further study and collaboration of the social and policy implications of aging populations.

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  Presented in Session 9. First DD and Prospects for the Second DD in Africa