SECTION A — Why youth are important for rural development
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Why youth are important for rural development

Youth is the period of life -- from age 15 to 24 -- when we cease to depend on others and take charge of our own future. If the transition goes well, everyone benefits. But a failed transition can result in life-long poverty, and a negative impact on society and the economy.

This report focuses on rural youth, who make up around half of all young people in developing countries, because the needs of rural youth are especially acute.


The number of young people is growing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa and in countries with low levels of structural transformation

Note: ST: structural transformation; RT: rural transformation; APR: Asia and the Pacific; LAC: Latin America and the Caribbean; NEN: Near East, North Africa and Europe; SSA: sub-Saharan Africa. The dataset covers 85 low- and middle-income countries (based on the World Bank definitions of these categories and data for 2018).
Source: Authors’ calculations, based on United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2017a).

Nearly 1 billion of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. This youth ‘bulge’ arises from a slow demographic transition in these countries, with impressive declines in mortality not yet being matched by significantly lower birth rates. How can policy-makers empower youth to reach their full potential?

At the same time, an unprecedented, rapid, transformative wave of technology change is sweeping the world. This offers new opportunities, while simultaneously shutting off some of the more traditional paths to rural development.


A disproportionate share of rural youth today are in Asia, but Africa’s share is projected to rise rapidly

Percentage share of global rural youth

0.00-0.20 0.21-0.50 0.51-1.00 1.01-2.00 2.01-4.10 4.11-14.00 14.01-27.50 CLICK ON DATA