By mid-2017, Rwanda had a population of 11.8 million with an annual growth rate of 2.4% from the corresponding previous year of 2016. Between 1980 and 2015, there has been a remarkable decline in the Total Fertility Rate, or the average number of children per woman over the course of her lifetime, from 8.4 children per woman in 1980 to 4.2 children per woman in 2015. The use of modern contraceptive methods increased from 10% in 2005 to 45% in 2010 and then rose slightly to 48% in 2015. Rwanda’s leadership has been highly supportive of family planning; in recent years, the country has invested in a network of community health workers (CHWs), run communications campaigns to drive demand for family planning and behavior change, and provided training on long-acting and permanent contraceptive methods. The current fertility decline will provide an opportunity for economic growth if combined with the promotion of equitable and good quality education, right investments in health, job creation and good governance.

Population pyramids can be used to show historical changes in age structure over time as well as projected changes in age structure in the future. Looking at Rwanda’s population pyramids, a change in the age structure is evident starting at “Rwanda 2010” and becomes more pronounced at “Rwanda 2015”.

Rwanda’s population pyramids from 1970 to 2015 reveal a remarkable narrowing at the base of the pyramid. Between 1970 and 2015, fertility did decline from 8.4 children per woman to 4.2 children per woman. The shape of “Rwanda 2015” has remarkable reduction in age groups 15-19, 20-24, and 25-29 which was due to the Tutsi Genocide in 1994 and not just low fertility. Nevertheless, though Rwanda’s population age structure has changed remarkably in the last five decades, total fertility rates remain high and, in general, each working age adult supports several dependents. The total wanted fertility rate (TWFR) is lower than the total fertility rate (TFR) and has narrowed marginally between 2010 and 2015, from 1.5 children in the 2010 RDHS to 1.1 children in 2014-15. “Rwanda 2030” has even more noticeable narrowing of the bottom of the pyramid, based on United Nations projections that assume a decline in total fertility to 2.98 children per woman over her lifespan. “Rwanda 2050” shows further narrowing of the base of the population pyramid, based on the assumption that fertility will decline further to 2.21 children per woman. In this 2030 and 2050 scenario, Rwanda would have a larger proportion of the population in working ages and, if well-educated and able to secure employment, will lead to a significant economic growth; hence achieving the demographic dividend.

Working Towards a Demographic Dividend in Rwanda

Rwanda has made substantial investments in reproductive health, family planning, and maternal and child health programs. These efforts and initiatives have led to the reduction of the fertility rate. If existing interventions are strengthened and new innovative strategies are established, fertility can be further reduced to achieve the national total fertility rate goal. Nonetheless, would the current progress continue, Rwanda has great potential of harvesting the fruits of the demographic dividend by 2030. For this to happen, substantial investments are needed to educate the growing youth population, to provide for the health needs of the Rwandan population, and to further stimulate job creation.

 The Government of Rwanda has made family planning a key component of its development agenda, as documented in its Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2013-2018). It aims to sustain family planning achievements and increase family planning availability and uptake.

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

United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 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

National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda data retrieved from http://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/gross-domestic-product

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

The Ministry of Finance of Rwanda- Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy II

STATcompiler of Demographic Health Survey Program

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/