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To Take Advantage of the Demographic Window of Opportunity or Not. That Is the Question: The Case of Fiji

Seniloli, Kesaia L. (2006) To Take Advantage of the Demographic Window of Opportunity or Not. That Is the Question: The Case of Fiji. In: Age Structural Transitions Challenges for Development. CICRED, 133,Bd Davout. 75980 Paris Cedex 20-France, pp. 201-224. ISBN 2-910053-27-X

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Age-structural transition is a process a population undergoes as its age structure changes from a youthful one to an ageing population. Fiji has been, and is still undergoing age-structural changes. The current and future demographic scenario for the Fiji Islands raises many critical issues and challenges. Fiji faces a period of changes in its age structure with implications on everyone and all aspects of life. The challenge is that Fiji will face changing demographic condition at a lower level of economic development. This paper attempts to study the nature and process of age-structural transition and its implications in Fiji. It also examines the age-structural changes of the two major ethnic groups. Changing age structure for Fiji presents a complex of challenges for policymakers and at the same time present potential opportunities. Many countries have benefited from the shift in balance of the broad age groups particularly the increase in working-age group, sometimes termed the demographic window of opportunity. The question of whether the ''demographic bonus'' or ''window of opportunity'' is realized in Fiji will depend on policies facilitating economic growth. This paper uses census data from as early as 1946 through to 1996 and uses data from population projections from 1996-2046. Fiji's working age-group increased from 1946 to 2006 for the total population where it peaked then projected to level off in the years 2016-2036. It will decline in 2046. It appears that the ''demographic window of opportunity'' will be between 2006 and 2036. It is a flat and long window of demographic opportunity but with a rather high level of dependency,a ratio hovering at around 60. This is linked to the relatively moderate fertility. It seems that avoiding further fertility decline will be important for sustainability in Fiji. This would not require investment in primary school education as the number of children at primary school level should stabilize but resources should be channeled to secondary and tertiary levels especially in the area of improving the quality of education. This should ensure avoidance of demographic turbulence and the path and problems faced by many developed and ageing countries. However, age-structural change of the Fijian component of the population is different from that of Indians in Fiji. For Fijians the proportion of the working-age group started to increase in 1976 and continues to increase in the entire projected period. The demographic window of opportunity will be long but at a higher level of dependency ratio than that of the total population. The proportion of the working-age group of Indians began began to increase in 1966, earlier than the Fijians. It increases up to 2036 and descends in 2046 and at a lower level of dependency. The timing of the window of opportunity is different for the two ethnic groups. It is earlier and ends earlier for the Indians and at a lower level of dependency. For the Fijians, it starts later in 1976 and continues throughout the projected period. To take advance of the window of opportunity Fiji has to improve economic performance and develop quality human resource. Increasing the proportion in formal employment would assist the country develop sustainably. In addition avoiding further fertility decline would also assist the country develop sustainably.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Economics
Depositing User: Kesaia Seniloli
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2015 03:47
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2015 03:47

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