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Beyond Population: Everyone Counts in Development

42 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2010  

Joel E. Cohen

Rockefeller University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 26, 2010


This essay reviews important demographic trends expected to occur between 2010 and 2050, indicates some of their implications for economic and global development, and suggests some possible policies to respond these trends and implications. The century from 1950 to 2050 will have witnessed the highest global population growth rate ever, the largest voluntary fall in the global population growth rate ever, and the most enormous demographic shift ever between the more developed and less developed regions. In the coming half century, according to most demographers, the world’s population will grow older, larger (albeit more slowly), and more urban than in the 20th century, but with much variance within and across regions. No one knows what population and demographic characteristics of humans are sustainable, but it is clear that having a billion or people chronically hungry today results from collective human choices, not biophysical necessities. Concrete policy options to respond to demographic trends include providing universal primary and secondary education, eliminating unmet needs for contraception and reproductive health, and implementing demographically sensitive urban planning, particularly construction for greater energy efficiency and for an aging population.

Keywords: demography, urbanization, ageing, population growth, universal education, contraception

JEL Classification: A12, J11, J13, J14, O13, Q01, Q56

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Joel E., Beyond Population: Everyone Counts in Development (July 26, 2010). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 220. Available at SSRN: or

Joel E. Cohen (Contact Author)

Rockefeller University

United States

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