This statistical file is based on the Population and Development Report 6: Development Policy Implications of Age–Structural Transitions in Arab countries, issued by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (Beirut, ESCWA, 2014) in the light of the growing demographic challenges facing the Arab countries, resulting from age–structural transitions that affect the process of development, in both the short- and long-terms. The report assumes that the Arab countries are undergoing a shift from high to low rates of mortality and fertility; as a result, some countries have entered a demographic ‘window of opportunity', and several others will soon enter this stage. The ‘window of opportunity' is a period when the working-age population (aged 15–64 years) grows faster than either the population of children (aged 0–14 years) or older persons (aged 65+ years), shifting the balance of the population from high levels of dependency to high levels of potential workers. This shift in age structure in turn creates the potential for Arab countries to benefit from a ‘demographic dividend', namely ‘increased economic productivity, savings, and human capital development' (ESCWA 2014, 3). The report, however, affirms that the ‘demographic dividend' is not an automatic benefit. It necessitates the adoption of reforms that enable Arab governments to make use of the time-limited demographic opportunity. Otherwise, challenges such as ‘youth unemployment and alienation will persist, while new problems of old-age poverty will be exacerbated in the future' (viii). In view of the above, this statistical file presents selected demographic figures that might be useful for following up on the age–structural changes in Arab countries and to assess government policies that would serve the needs of different age groups.

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