Four population scenarios were derived describing changes in indicators of demographic behaviour should people come to live in different future political-economic contexts. Focus of this policy brief is on expected trends in (1) population growth at regional and national levels, (2) working age populations in view of demographic dividend potential for the economy, and (3) population of elderly persons in view of the future financial burden this group might impose on societies. Results show that different economic-political development scenarios do have large effects on population growth, at least up to 2030). This is due to the socalled population momentum effect in the relatively young age-structures of most SMCs. In the short term, up to 2030, and depending on which economic-political unfolds, SMCs expected to grow from 280 million people to a figure between 362 and 349 million people. Thus, in a period of about 20 years SMC populations are expected to grow with a figure between 69 and 83 million. In that same period, EU27 populations will grow with 21 million only from about 500 to 521 million people. Between 2030 and 2050, additional population growth is foreseen in SMCs, between 48 and 62 million people, while EU27 populations are expected to grow with only 4 million during that period. SMCs appear to vary widely regarding demographic transition profiles so that demographic dividend potentials also vary. For instance, Egypt has considerably demographic dividend potential ahead in the coming decades as working age population shares will rise from 63% (2010) to a peak level of about 68% by 2045. In Turkey though, the working age population share is already high (68%) and near the expected peak level of 69% (by 2025) after which a decline sets in. The window of opportunity -the period when working age population shares rise to peak levels and remain at a high level- is starting to close for Lebanon and Tunisia though levels will remain high up to 2035 after which a decline sets in due to ageing of these populations. Ageing implies an increase of the economic burden to economies as elderly generally do not contribute any longer to economies as they did during their working age years. Old-age dependency ratios, the share of elderly in relation to the working age population, are still low compared to EU27 ratios but will increase after 2035.
Should SMCs remain politically, economically and environmentally fragile in the coming decades, these lower dependency ratios will impose a relatively higher social and financial burden to societies than the high dependency ratios in EU countries.
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