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Rural youth populations shift over time and help shape future demographic patterns while impacting the options for states to achieve demographic dividends and reduce gender inequalities. Building on United Nations data, our analysis shows how past growth of the youth population (15 to 24-year-olds) was dramatic in Asia and the Pacific, while projections suggest a sharp rise in the youth population of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) until 2050. These variable trajectories across regions are further accentuated by diverging rural and urban populations – shaped both by differential fertility rates and by rural-to-urban migration. Youth sex ratios vary acutely between rural and urban sectors, driven largely by sex-specific migration. In some regions, male rural-to-urban migration leaves rural areas with higher numbers of women. Efforts to involve women in key roles in agriculture and to increase female productivity should be a primary concern to raise the demographic dividend. Indeed, large proportions of rural youth, of both sexes, lower dependency ratios and raise the urgency of accumulating human capital to increase their productivity. Of course, growing cohorts of potential workers require a labour market with sufficient capacity to absorb them – and this requires particular attention as rural transformation pushes youth to seek alternative employment outside of agriculture


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