The it possible for existing resource to accommodate

The impact of population on economic growth and
development of a country has been a contested one. Tuned by Malthusian view of
population and resource, “Pessimists” argued that population growth negatively
affects economic growth because of the inability of fixed resources to
accommodate growing needs. Proponents of population growth debated that such
view neglects the advancement of technology and increased access to education
which leads to further innovation and hence make it possible for existing
resource to accommodate the need of the growing population. There are also
“neutralists” who state that population by itself is not a sufficient factor to
significantly affect economic growth. 

While the opposing views have empirical
evidences to support their arguments, much of the debate heavily concentrated
on the number/size of population as a central element. The composition of
different age-groups in a given population, the difference in behavior and the
requirement of investments, and the distinct economic consequences was a
critical issue that was overlooked in the debate surrounding population and
development. In recent decades, however, the call for a focus on the
age-structure of a population has been gaining an increasing level of attention
from policymakers, academics and other stakeholders.

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The increasing focus on age-structure of the
population gave rise to the concept of demographic dividend: an alternative lens
to view population and development with. Among other factors, technological
advances in health and other sectors; urbanization; and increased access to
education and family planning programs, especially to girls; are contributing
to lower fertility and mortality rates, changing the composition of age-groups
in a given population. Decline in fertility and mortality rates are ultimately
followed by a demographic transition where the working-age group of a
population expands in relation to the number of population considered to be
economically dependent. This change in age-structure creates a window of
opportunity that, if accompanied by the design and implementation of
appropriate policies, could generate a surplus for a country. This benefit is
conceptualized as demographic dividend.

Ethiopia, the second most populous country in
Africa, has registered a decline in fertility rate, infant and child mortality
rate owing to strides in promoting access to health and family planning
services among other matters. Demographers contend that the age-structure of
Ethiopia’s population is in the early stages of transition and the transition
will continue provided that fertility levels will continue to decline as per
the low variant population projection of the United Nations in 2015. However,
as reverberated by researchers in the field and supported by country experiences,
demographic dividend is not guaranteed by sheer demographic transition but embedded
in crucial caveats. Appropriate measures should be in place in order for a
country to generate a demographic dividend. If Ethiopia is to harness
demographic dividend, the significance of designing and implementing appropriate
and multi-sectoral policies that hasten the demographic transition cannot be
understated.