Demographics and development

People gathering before market stalls © GIZ/Tsegaye

Demographic processes and scenarios concern almost all countries and fields of policy, from social protection, health and education, through migration, rural development and water, to climate and conflict prevention.

Numerous examples show that the distribution problems with resources essential to life, such as water and land, will intensify. Besides climate change, the cause lies in demographic processes. As a result of population growth, more and more people are competing for living space, leading to social tensions. This is also apparent in the situation of training, education and employment in many countries, where there are already shortages of trained teachers, schools and trainee positions. The high growth rate of the young population makes it impossible to integrate everyone into the labour market and enable them to lead an independent life. The consequences are often frustration and lack of prospects. What do these trends mean in the context of such a sharp increase in the world population? Or in the context of a combination of a dramatic increase in the number of older people and a decrease in the young Population?

Although demographic trends and scenarios often seem different in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa (particularly south of the Sahara) and also Europe’s industrialised nations and Germany, there are also shared questions, challenges and opportunities. For example, countries which still have a high share of young people will have to face the issue of ageing at some point in the future. Industrialised countries where one-third of the population will soon be over 60 are facing enormous problems with pensions and healthcare, particularly caring for the elderly and recruiting skilled labour. They will have to think about how to improve conditions so that more children are born again and age-appropriate care is possible. A decisive approach for establishing reciprocal understanding across generations of the different needs, challenges and perspectives of the different population groups is the intergenerational dialogue model. The goal is to strengthen the dialogue between ‘young’ and ‘old’ on central questions from the project and living environment of the target group (including issues such as growing up and living in urban and rural areas, family, school, employment, income-generation and nonviolent conflict transformation etc) and developing common social future prospects.

Designing demographic scenarios is accordingly an overarching joint task for policy-makers, civil society, the private sector and universities and research institutes, in which all involved can learn from each other. On behalf of the German Government we offer relevant expertise and access to networks, and refer to ‘key individuals’ and projects, inside and outside GIZ.

Together with our partners, we find customised answers to the urgent questions of population policy so that we can position ourselves today for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.


Anna Bohlender
Phone: +49 6196 79-1270