greater citizen participation through local social and environmental movements, community interest groups, and other nongovernmental organizations. It has also been accompanied by a growing trend toward decentralization of power and responsibility to local government authorities. These political changes have been associated with more participatory government and increasing opportunities for young people to participate in civil society, in the life of the community, and in politics.

Changes in Population Size and Distribution

Rapid globalization has coincided with unprecedented growth in the size of the population of young people in developing countries. Large young cohorts challenge nations to achieve and sustain access to basic health and education services to all sectors of society. Although the total fertility rate is falling throughout the developing world (i.e., women are having fewer children, on average) the total number of adolescents remains very large due to high fertility in the recent past. The total population of young people ages 10-24 in the world is estimated by the United Nations to have reached 1.76 billion by 2005, approximately 27 percent of the world’s total population (see Table 2-1). While young people constitute approximately 20 percent of the total population of more developed regions, in the developing world the population of young people ages 10 to 24 is estimated to reach approximately 1.5 billion in 2005, or 29 percent of the total population of those regions. In the least developed countries, the proportion of young people in the overall population is even greater: over 33 percent in 2005. Generally the poorer a country is, the younger its population.

In terms of absolute size, it is important to remember that the youth population in the developing world is itself quite unevenly distributed geographically and that the regional distribution continues to shift as a result of differential fertility, mortality, and migration rates across regions. By 2005, it is estimated that over 70 percent of the young people in the less developed world will live in Asia, with 42 percent of all young people living in China and India alone. The population in Africa is projected to rise to 26 percent of all developing country young people by 2030 (435 million) from its level in 2005 of 19 percent (294 million). This is primarily a result of continued decline in developing Asia’s share of young people, which is estimated at 75 percent in 1980 (807 million), 70 percent in 2005 (1,060 million), and 64 percent in 2030 (1,075 million). Latin America and the Caribbean’s share of the total developing country young is projected to decline slightly from 10.5 percent in 2005 to 9.5 percent in 2030 (see Table 2-1).

In all developing regions, each subsequent cohort is projected to continue to increase steadily as the rapid growth in Africa and parts of Asia

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement