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The Demographic Dividend concept and its related theory are useful tools that have helped expand our cumulative knowledge about the economic consequences of population change under various conditions. When we look at how these tools are being wielded by some policy-makers and social commentators in developing countries, we see a lot of apparent misunderstandings and inflated claims, especially regarding the economic benefits that will flow when the purported ‘window of opportunity’ eventually opens.
The main aim of this paper is to clarify this situation, with a primary focus on the case of Indonesia. Where is the evidence to support the demographic dividend concept? What questions does it help us to answer, and what are the concept’s limitations? Finally, why is the concept allegedly so widely misunderstood? What are its ideological uses?