Youth unemployment and gender inequality can impact on Indonesia’s ability to fully harness the demographic bonus

31 August 2017
On 29-31 August 2017, UNFPA participated in an international conference at the University of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta on “Demographic Dividend and Youth: Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Agenda 2017”.

In her presentation, Dr. Annette Sachs Robertson, UNFPA’s Indonesia Country Representative, highlighted that past and ongoing investments in family planning in Indonesia have contributed to a rapid decline in the fertility and thereby enabled a potential demographic dividend. There has been a rapid decline in the number of children born to each woman, the Total Fertility Rate, from 5.6 in 1970 to 2.3 in 2015. From a national perspective, a transitory window of opportunity is now open, where the population structure has a dependency ratio, with a favorable proportion of working aged persons to nonworking age or dependent persons.

Dr. Robertson maintained that Indonesia’s demographic dividend is not automatic, and  depends on appropriate and timely policies and investments, particularly in education, employment and empowerment of young people. Because of the demographic transition, a large proportion of the population entering the working age means a chance for accelerated economic development. In order for this population structure to be harnessed to enable a dividend, effective and well-tuned population-based policies are needed. In her presentation, she highlighted the geographic disparities across the country in dependency ratios and the needed for a targeted approach that takes into account subnational realities.
UNFPA advocates a 3E Policy Framework to Reap the Demographic Dividend: Empower, Educate, Employ. This framework calls for governments to ensure that all citizens have the rights and freedoms to define their lives, pursue an education, join a productive workforce, and accrue wealth.

International experience shows that many countries have failed to realise a demographic dividend, with insufficient social development, often due to persistent problems with gender inequality and inadequately investing in young people.

UNFPA Indonesia is working with the government and civil society to promote social development that takes into account the potential of youth, and empowers women, thereby impacting economic development.