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Demographic time bombs are constricting development

In select countries in Eastern Europe, death rates now exceed birth rates. More deaths and emigration (those leaving a country), are exceeding births and immigration (those entering a country). Lower birth rates, and emigration, lead to a smaller pool of young people entering the workforce. An aging population is also putting additional strain on already challenged state budgets. 

African schoolchildren sit in an underfunded classroom, eagerly raising their hands

An ever expanding populace is becoming unemployable because the quality provision of formal and technical education can’t keep up. (Creative Commons)


For example, Bulgaria's population is expected to decline by 22.5% from 6.8 million in 2022 to 5.4 million in 2050. Romania, Ukraine and Russia face similar challenges. 


In contrast, parts of the Middle East and Africa are seeing the opposite trend. Birth rates continue to exceed death rates, and in particular countries at unprecedented levels. Higher birth rates, even with emigration, are still leading to an ever growing pool of young people entering the workforce. In a nutshell, having lots of kids is perceived as a way of creating future economic opportunity. 


For countries like Russia and Ukraine, that have been approaching negative population growth rates for the past decade, couple this with war and emigration, and this will result in even fewer births. This will further spur severe shortages of different types of sills sets within their workforce, and quiet literally create a shortage of supply of men. 


For countries like Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt, more births are challenging infrastructure, education, health care, food supplies, and demanding their economies create jobs at unprecedented levels. But, what do you do with a populace when education is faltering? It isn’t just formal education that is faltering, it’s technical education as well.


In European countries affected by the trifecta of negative population growth, war, and emigration, their challenges are unique. For parts of Eastern Europe, promoting immigration could be a way forward. But, select countries have clearly shown an unwillingness to accept immigrants of color, or of different ethnicity and religion. To promote immigration, you need revised public policies and incentives, you need to have economic growth as a catalyst, and you need an open mind.


In the Middle East and Africa, an ever expanding populace is becoming unemployable because the quality provision of formal and technical education can’t keep up. Significant employment opportunities exist in countries showing high rates of growth, especially in the Gulf, but you need skills to promote emigration that can detract from the impending demographic time bomb.


The answers in dealing with these global demographic time bombs are complex and multifaceted. The duality of these very different demographic time bombs in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, mean unique challenges. Demographic duality is just a further complexity facing some of the most developmentally challenged countries in the world. 


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