‘Sri Lanka Must Be Ready for a Post-Demographic Dividend Era’ – New Report by IPS and UNFPA

In this third special post marking the World Conference on Youth 2014, we feature a new report prepared by the IPS and UNFPA titled, ‘Investing in the Demographic Dividend: Successes, Challenges and Way Forward for Sri Lanka’, which launches at a special side event on the final day of the WCY 2014 today.

It suggests measures for Sri Lanka to get ready for a post-demographic dividend phase in the country, and makes recommendations on where critical investments need to be made. In this blog, IPS Research Economist Chatura Rodrigo (CR), lead author of the report, gives Talking Economics (TE) a quick overview of the report and how its findings can be used in future policy-making.


TE: What’s unique about this publication and what’s the issue it’s trying to address?

CR: This is the first report to take a look at Sri Lanka’s investments in reaping the demographic dividend, and the results of it in terms of harnessing the potential of youth in the country. It is built around five areas – investments in family planning, health, education, employment, and infrastructure. It argues that Sri Lanka has used up most of the demographic dividend period, but with more investments we can reap the maximum benefit out of what is left.


TE: What are three of the key messages coming out of it, that’s important for all of us to think about?


CR: The first is that investments in family planning and in health are key factors, since they affect education, employment, labour force participation and poverty among Sri Lanka’s youth. The second is that investments in infrastructure such as housing, sanitation, and drinking water should also be prioritized, since safe living is a basic human right, and it is important for young people and women especially. Third, Sri Lanka has to be ready to face an ageing population, and so more attention should be given to healthcare, pension schemes and elderly care.


TE: How will the findings be used by various institutions, whether in government or development agencies?


CR: There are key messages for health, education, economic development and housing ministries. Opportunities for funding by the INGO and NGO community and private sector have been identified. Policy recommendations are provided at the end, from which the government can take the lead so that others will follow.


TE: As the lead author of this report, what was the most rewarding and what was the most challenging part of preparing this report in time for the WCY 2014?


CR: The main challenge was piecing the puzzle together, since all the issues are interconnected. For example, women labour force participation is not only a matter of the unavailability of jobs, quality of education or social norms; it is affected by issues around sexual and reproductive health, especially in the estate and rural areas. The most rewarding part for me was the formulation of recommendations. At the end of the day, we need to plan for the future based on the past and current situation, and I hope this report will make a strong contribution to do that successfully.


chatura unfpa infographic 1


The report contains rich analysis and attractive infographics to highlight the key findings. It can be accessed online via the IPS Scribd page here, or browsed in the embedded document below.



‘Investing in the Demographic Dividend: Successes, Challenges and Way Forward for Sri Lanka’ – IPS and UNFP… by IPS Sri Lanka


Earlier this week and coinciding with the opening of the WCY 2014, we uploaded a recap of previous IPS work relevant to the youth agenda and can be accessed here. Visit us on Twitter (@talkeconomicssl), to follow our conversations around the #WCY2014.


For an earlier blog article on Sri Lanka’s demographic transition, visit here.