As of 2014, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a current population of 71.2 million, annual population growth rate of 3.0%, and 46% of DRC’s population is under age 15. The Total Fertility Rate, or the average number of children per woman over the course of her lifetime, has slightly decreased from 7.1 children in 1990 to 6.6 children per woman in 2013, but remains one of the highest in the world. DRC must prioritize reducing fertility rates if it is to experience wide-scale development.

Population pyramids can be used to show change to age structure over time as well as projected changes to age structure in the future. In DRC’s population pyramids, not much change to age structure is anticipated until between 2030 and 2050.

The broad bases of the pyramids “DRC 1970”, “DRC 1990”, “DRC 2010” represent a large number of children in relation to the working age population. Indeed, total fertility has DRC remained high over this 40-year period. Fertility actually rose from 1970 when the average woman had 6.2 children over the course of her life to 7.1 children per woman in 1990. By 2010, total fertility rates dropped slightly back to 6.2 children per woman. “DRC 2030” is the United Nations projection of DRC population age structure if fertility declines at a moderate rate. This pyramid assumes that by 2030, fertility will decline to an average of 4.34 children per woman over the course of her lifetime, which will require significant commitment on the part of DRC government and civil society. In “DRC 2050,” projections show the base of the population pyramid narrowing, representing a lower fertility rate and the age structure of the population beginning to change.

Working Towards a Demographic Dividend in DRC

If DRC makes substantial investments in reproductive health, family planning, and girls’ education, a fertility decline will likely occur, and children will be more likely to achieve better basic levels of health. With additional investments in health and education and economic initiatives to facilitate job creation, DRC may be able to experience the rapid economic growth known as a demographic dividend. Organizations working on the topic of a demographic dividend in DRC include:

  • The Government of DRC is working to reposition family planning within its development agenda in order to increase family planning availability and uptake.
  • University of Kinshasa is beginning to conduct unique research on the topic of a demographic dividend in DRC.
  • Advance Family Planning project seeks to strengthen family planning and reproductive health advocacy in DRC.
  • Population Reference Bureau is working with partners in DRC to advance discussion of a demographic dividend in DRC.
Sources

Population Reference Bureau, 2014 World Population Data Sheet, (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2014).

United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, (New York: United Nations, 2013).

World Bank Group. (2014) World DataBank. Retrieved from http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx

Education statistics were taken from the most recent Demographic and Health Survey for each country.

World Bank Group. (2014) Worldwide Governance Indicators. Retrieved from http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home

World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, (Geneva: Switzerland, 2014).

Definitions

Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution. Thus a Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality.

Dependency ratio is the ratio of dependents--people younger than 15 or older than 64--to the working-age population--those ages 15 to 64. Although each country’s experience is different, countries that have realized a demographic dividend typically have a dependency ratio of less than 50 dependents for every 100 working-age adults.

Worldwide Governance Indicators are measured on a scale from -2.5 to +2.5. The closer to 2.5 the rating is, the stronger the governance. Government Effectiveness is a composite governance indicator with data from multiple sources. Political stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism is a composite governance indicator with data from multiple sources More information on methodology available at: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home

Global Competitiveness Index defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy. The different aspects of competitiveness are captured in 12 pillars, ranging from institutional strength to market size. http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-report-2014-2015/