Structure of population, women status and development at local level: the case of Sub-Saharan countries

Fausta Ongaro, Università di Padova
Silvana Salvini, Università di Firenze

High fertility and demographic pressure – combined with lack of gender equality and women's empowerment – may put in doubt development. The aim of our analysis is to study the role played both by the demographic pressure and social behavior on the Human Development Index (HDI) in the sub-Saharan Africa. After analyzing the territorial variability of HDI among and into some sub-Saharan countries at district level in years around 1990, 2000 and 2010, we intend to understand if there is some form of association between Municipal Human Development Index and some indicators of socio-demographic structure. The hypothesis we want to verify is that the higher the level of demographic pressure (expressed by dependency ratios) and the worse the social context, the lower the level of development, according to the approach of “demographic window”. From a strictly demographic point of view, this period represents the "bridge" between a young and less developed population (high fertility and mortality which witness an old demographic regime, and also socio-economic backwardness) and an older and more developed population (low fertility and mortality). This study enriches the literature by exploring the effect of the demographic pressure on the socio-economic development at district level within some sub-Saharan countries, in relationship with some indicators of women’s status (female empowerment and gender equality). Our results demonstrate a negative effect of the dependent population (young and old people) and a positive effect of some indices of women’s status on the development. In the model explaining the relation between development, dependency ratios and women's status variables at local level, the inclusion of the dummies of the countries does not substantially change the effects of the covariates, thus suggesting that the former relationships are not mediated by the country-time variables.

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Presented in Session 65: Population, development and environment interactions