THE IMPACT OF YOUTH BULGE ON SOUTH ASIA: LESSONS FOR BANGLADESH
Keywords:YOUTH BULGE ON SOUTH ASIA
Political scientists suggest a strong correlation between countries prone to civil conﬂicts and those with burgeoning youth populations. The theory of youth bulge contends that societies with rapidly growing young populations often end up with rampant unemployment and large pools of disaffected youths who are more susceptible to recruitment into rebel or terrorist groups. So-called “youth bulges” have been for many years a key concern in development given the implications for labour markets, government budgets, cultural norms and overall economic growth in countries where economic stagnation and unemployment are already major problems. Since early 1990s, awareness of the security dimensions of youth bulges took on a new prominence and more recently, youth bulges have become a popular explanation for current political instability in the Arab world and for recruitment to international terrorist networks. Demographers suggest that countries with a large proportion of young adults in the working-age population are much less likely to attain a stable liberal democracy either. A good number of demographers are also quick to stress that youth bulges do not lead inexorably to conﬂicts— corruption, ethno-religious tensions, poverty, and poor political institutions also play contributing roles. Obviously, large numbers of young people create special challenges and opportunities for societies. The bulge has the potential to create a demographic dividend in the right policy environment.
The South Asian region has been recognized for its large ratio of youth in the growing population. Bangladesh will have a relatively large workingage population including a major share of youth as compared to its dependent population over the next few decades. Policy makers and planners must be aware of the demographic dividend’s relevance to investment planning and human resources development. The majority of youth population in Bangladesh could be a boon for the country as young people have emerged as a major force behind economic development in many Asian countries. The demographic dividend is a unique window of opportunity that Bangladesh must not miss.
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