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CGD Policy Blogs


West Africa: The Demographic Dividend Is Not a Given

Nowadays, the international development community is abuzz about the strong economic performance of sub-Saharan Africa.  This year alone, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates growth in the region at 5.4 percent, and only ‘developing Asia’ should do better.  Often this kind of economic boon is accompanied by falling fertility rates that usher in a ‘demographic dividend’ – or a window of opportunity when dependency ratios decline and the labor force increases relatively.  But rapid population growth in the West African sub-region in particular may slow down economic development and