Understanding the demographic dividend in Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia: Prospects or missed opportunities?

  • Stephen Owusu Kwankye, Faustina Frempong-Ainguah, Eric Arthur, Eugenia Amporfu, University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Keywords: Demographic dividend, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Prospects, Missed opportunities


This study provides a comparative investigation of the onset of the Demographic Dividend (DD) in Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. The paper examines the onset of the window of opportunity for harnessing the first DD in the three countries to inform relevant policy actions to reap its benefits. The study uses the National Transfer Accounts Approach, which measures at the aggregate level how individuals at each age acquire and use economic resources by examining the demographic transition alongside economic development in each country. The goal is to determine the commencement of the DD and its implications for policy action. While the window of opportunity of harnessing the labour DD of Ghana started in 1980s and expected to end in 2025, that of The Gambia and Sierra Leone began in 2000 and 2003 respectively, estimated to end by 2050. Sierra Leone and The Gambia have thirty years to make good use of this window of opportunity. Ghana on the other hand according to the data used has barely six years to harness this window of opportunity. This calls for strategic investments in productive sectors to position the countries to reap the benefits of the DD.  The analysis suggests that the window of opportunity of harnessing the DD could be a prospect or missed opportunity, which will vary across the three countries with Ghana’s opportunity fast running out.