The effects of a very young age structure in Yemen

The effects of a very young age structure in Yemen

Responding to the needs of a youthful population could promote stability in Yemen

Yemen has the most youthful age structure in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa, with three-quarters of its population under the age of 30. It also has a very high fertility rate. Periodic terrorist attacks against foreign targets and its location as a base for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have highlighted the geopolitical significance of this country. Yemen’s ongoing population growth is occurring in a context of many challenges - weak central government, ongoing civil strife, poverty and unemployment, and growing natural resource shortages.

This study looks at the following:

  • how population age structure has affected development in Yemen
  • demographic forces shaping Yemen’s current and projected age structures
  • ways the government and other stakeholders are implementing policies and programs that address the country’s demography
  • stakeholders’ assessments of the future direction of this policy agenda
  • Yemen’s opportunities and challenges related to age structure issues, and what policy recommendations can be offered?
To achieve Yemen’s long-term development goals, the author makes the following recommendations specifically to the United States government, working in coordination with Yemen’s government, other donors and in-country civil society partners:
  • increase investments in family planning and reproductive health - there is an unmet need for family planning and reproductive health services that could significantly reduce maternal and child deaths
  • increase and strengthen educational and economic development opportunities for large youth cohorts, with a focus on improving female participation - funds should be devoted to ensure increased educational access for girls, employment opportunities should be centered on manufacturing, industry, services and other new, expanding sectors, beyond agriculture and civil service
  • include age structure and broader demographic factors in efforts to foster political stability and security - In the short-term, initiatives should be linked to economic opportunities for young people, in order to offset the ease of recruitment into extremist organizations. In the long-term, development policies should focus on promoting a more balanced age structure through voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs
  • support policies and programs that promote gender equity and advance the legal rights of and economic opportunities for women - many girls have little opportunity for education and are married too soon. Changing attitudes among young people, which reflect stronger beliefs in gender equity, should be reinforced in both education and community settings
  • develop and fund integrated approaches to climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability that include family planning and reproductive health
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