Harnessing Indonesia’s Demographic Dividend

Take a look at a video recap I edited and reported on from UNFPA Indonesia’s event on the country’s demographic dividend in April. The event was opened by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.

Identifying strategic ways in which Indonesia can capitalize on its demographic dividend was the key issue addressed at a high-level forum hosted jointly by the Indonesian Demographers Association (IPADI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the capital on Monday.

Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla was the keynote speaker at the special event at the Pullman Hotel, Jakarta, which comprised of Government officials, prominent business leaders, policymakers, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, youth networks and academics. The event, “Capitalizing on the Demographic Dividend: Challenges and Opportunities towards an Advanced, Just and Prosperous Indonesia”, was an opportunity to promote policy dialogue among the 70 guests regarding the critical role of population age structure and dynamics, necessary investments in family planning, health and education, favourable economic policies and good governance practices for achieving sustainable economic and social development in Indonesia.

UNFPA’s Executive Director Prof. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who was in Jakarta for the World Economic Forum on East Asia, led the discussion and highlighted how Indonesia can achieve the dividend and reap the benefits of its associated economic growth. He also discussed the Post-2015 Development Agenda in line with UNFPA’s priorities.

Joining Dr. Osotimehin on the panel was Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs, Sofyan Djalil; the Minister of National Development Planning, Adrinof Chaniago; and the Minister of Health, Nila Moeloek.

As Indonesia enters the early stages of the demographic transition – a period where average lifespans increase due to a decline in death rates – the country has the potential to reap a demographic dividend. There are currently 65 million young people in Indonesia – the largest generation of young people that Indonesia has ever seen.

“Investments in the rights and well-being of adolescents and youth, now and throughout their lives, will unleash a demographic dividend of inclusive, sustainable economic growth in many countries, as they see larger numbers of young working age people relative to children and older persons,” said Dr. Osotimehin, who holds the rank of Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.

When the dependency ratio – a ratio between the unproductive people (aged below 15 and above 65) and productive people aged 15-64 – declines, this presents an opportunity for high saving, high investment and in turn, high economic growth.

“In our interconnected and globalized world, this dividend will pay off for all. Realizing this potential requires a powerful commitment to health, and in particular to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights throughout the life course,” Dr. Osotimehin said in a speech during the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development in New York on Monday, April 13.

With the country’s demographic window of opportunity open until 2030, the projected date from BPS Statistics Indonesia, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) and UNFPA, the next 15 years will be a critical time where the ratio of people at a working age to those of a non-working age will peak. Projected estimates from the UN Population Division revealed that while the population aged 15-64 will continue to grow until 2050, the number of people aged 65 and above will rise considerably during the century, so that by around 2060-70 there will, for the first time ever in Indonesia, be more people over 65 than children under 15.

“Indonesia’s population is now composed of more working-age people than ever before, both in absolute numbers—at 157 million potential workers—and as a proportion of the total population— accounting for 66 per cent of all Indonesians.[1]Combined, these trends pose huge potential for social and economic benefit, which must be leveraged wisely,” added Mr. Jose Ferraris, UNFPA’s Representative in Indonesia.

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