NEW YORK (November 20, 2012) — On Universal Children’s Day, UNICEF issued a new research paper highlighting global demographic shifts forecast for the coming generation of children that present major challenges to policy makers and planners.
The paper, Generation 2025 and Beyond: The Critical Importance of Understanding Demographic Trends for Children of the 21st Century, says that by 2050, one in every three births will be African. One hundred years earlier, sub-Saharan Africa’s share of births was just one in ten.
According to the paper, under-five deaths will be concentrated increasingly in sub-Saharan Africa and in pockets of poverty in populous lower-income countries and in least developed nations.
“We must do everything possible so these children get an equal chance to survive, develop and reach their full potential,” said co-author David Anthony.
In October 2011, the world’s population reached seven billion; based on current projections, it will hit eight billion by 2025. Ninety percent of the world’s newest inhabitants will be born in less developed regions.
The paper projects only a modest 4% increase in the global population of children by 2025, but the population growth shifts significantly to less developed countries.
According to projections, the 49 countries classified as the world’s least developed nations will account for approximately 455 million of the two billion global births between 2010 and 2025. Five populous middle-income countries—China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria—will account for about 859 million births between 2010 and 2025.
The only high-income country projected to have an increasing proportion of children by 2025 is the United States, which is among the top five countries for births in the next 15 years.
Although China and India will continue to have a major share of the world’s population, in absolute terms Nigeria will see the highest increase in its under-18 population of any country. It will add 31 million children, a rise of 41%, between 2010 and 2025. At the same time, Nigeria will account for one in every eight deaths among children.
The paper says that serious consideration must be given to how to meet the needs of children, especially in health and education, in least developed countries.
The study, derived from projections by the United Nations Population Division, warns that there will be increasing pressure to shift resources away from children due to an ageing global population.
“Children do not vote, and their voices are often not heard when governments make decisions about funding,” said co-author Danzhen You. “It will be more important than ever to safeguard children so their rights are respected and upheld.”
The paper’s recommendations include targeting investments to the areas where children will be born; emphasizing neglected groups, especially in high population, middle-income countries; and reaching the poorest and most isolated households.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
In 1954, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children's Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day be devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the United Nations Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The date 20 November marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.