Pakistan will experience demographic bonus in the next 30 to 40 years, as majority of its population will be in labour force as compared to the comparatively smaller economically dependent segment.
Presenting the latest statistics at a ‘Policy Dialogue on Population and Health’, organised by the Advocates of Gender, Education and Health Information, Sachet, experts said that the scenario would be transitory and stressed the need for proper planning to fully utilise the potential of such a large labour force.
Explaining the population dynamics, senior researcher for Population Council Pakistan Minhajul Haque said that the countries utilising that phase in past succeeded in achieving their developmental goals. “The same stage also arrived for countries like Malaysia and Indonesia and they took maximum benefit of it through proper planning,” he said.
Haque said that even if best family planning measures were implemented, the phase was destined to come to Pakistan. “This demographic bonus could transform into demographic distress if our planners fail to utilise the opportunity,” he said.
He said that the country would enter the bonus phase in the year 2008 to 2010 and would stay in that situation for the next 30 to 40 years. “After that the age dependency ratio will increase and we will have more dependent people as compared to those who could contribute to the economic development of the country,” he added.
Highlighting issues that could affect the proper utilisation of the potential labour force in future, Haque said that there was a need to address gender gap and poverty to turn that phase into an opportunity. “Culture, economic and social conditions affect male and female population in extremely different ways,” he explained.
He pointed out that gender gap was worst in the rural areas where majority of population lived. “Poverty also affects girls more disproportionately as compared to boys whereas the physical mobility and sources of information for girls were also very limited,” he added.
Sharing some other interesting statistics, he said that if provided opportunities 83 per cent of girls in the age bracket of 15-19 wanted to work and financially contribute to the household budget like other male family members. “No progress could be made without utilising the female labour force that makes half of the population,” he said.
He demanded better coordination among different ministries in this regard and called for linking population policy with the economic policy.
Professor Dr Nizamuudin, Vice Chancellor, University of Gujrat, who was chief guest, said that there was a need to invest more in colleges and improve the syllabi as college education gave students the basics for future planning. “Generally students have very few choices especially opportunities for technical education are very limited,” he regretted.
Fayyaz Baqir Senior Advisor for United Nations said that though political infrastructure had reached district level, schools and hospital were still lying vacant or were used for other purposes. “Instead of making suggestions for policy making, more important issue is to point out why no policy was properly implemented in the past,” he said.
Source: The News, 25/6/2008