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World Bank, IMF say migration to be a long-term issue
Oct '15
As migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive in Europe in unprecedented numbers, a new World Bank/IMF report says that large-scale migration from poor countries to richer regions of the world will be a permanent feature of the global economy for decades to come as a result of major population shifts in countries.

According to the Global Monitoring Report 2015/2016: Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change, released in Peru at the start of the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, the world is undergoing a major population shift that will reshape economic development for decades and, while posing challenges, offers a path to ending extreme poverty and shared prosperity if the right evidence-based policies are put in place nationally and internationally.

The share of global population that is working age has peaked at 66 per cent and is now on the decline. World population growth is expected to slow to 1 per cent from more than 2 per cent in the 1960s. The share of the elderly is anticipated to almost double to 16 per cent by 2050, while the global count of children is stabilizing at 2 billion.

The direction and pace of this global demographic transition varies dramatically from country to country, with differing implications depending on where a nation stands on the spectrum of aging and economic development. Regardless of this diversity, countries at all stages of development can harness demographic transition as a tremendous development opportunity, the report says.

“With the right set of policies, this era of demographic change can be an engine of economic growth,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “If countries with aging populations can create a path for refugees and migrants to participate in the economy, everyone benefits, Most of the evidence suggests that migrants will work hard and contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services.”

More than 90 per cent of global poverty is concentrated in lower-income countries with young, fast-growing populations that can expect to see their working-age populations grow significantly. At the same time, more than three-quarters of global growth is generated in higher-income countries with much-lower fertility rates, fewer people of working age, and rising numbers of the elderly.

At country level, governments with young populations can maximize the benefits of demography by investing in health and education to maximize the skills and future job prospects of their youth. Those countries with aging populations should consolidate their economic gains by boosting productivity and strengthening social safety nets and other welfare systems to protect the elderly. At the global level, freer cross-border flows of trade, investment, and people can help manage demographic imbalances.

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