Last week, the Population Reference Bureau launched the annual World Population Data Sheet, highlighting country, regional, and global population, health, and environment data and patterns. This year’s data sheet places special emphasis on youth. “The great bulk of today’s 1.2 billion youth—nearly 90 percent—are in developing countries,” said Carl Haub, PRB senior demographer and co-author of the data sheet. Eight in 10 of those youth live in Africa and Asia. “During the next few decades, these young people will most likely continue the current trend of moving from rural areas to cities in search of education and training opportunities, gainful employment, and adequate health care.” With the right investments in health, education, agricultural development, and entrepreneurship, a large youth population can be an opportunity for development and change.
Also of note, the population report's data sheet shows that early childbearing poses serious health risks for both mother and child (see chart above). Many girls under 18, especially in poorer countries, are physically immature and at higher risk for obstetric complications. And children born to these young mothers are at higher risk for illness and death than children born to mothers in their 20s. One major SOLUTION: Some countries have reduced the prevalence of early childbearing by keeping girls in school and changing community norms and national policies about early marriage.