2.3 Population Dynamics and Sexual and ­Reproductive Health in the Context of Economic and Social Processes


The size, growth, age-sex structure, and location of the population—i.e. aggregate population characteristics and trends—have various effects that are relevant for public policies and decisions. In particular, they exercise a decisive influence on the trajectory of the workforce, given that they determine the size of the potentially available active population and some factors that affect the participation of women. Furthermore, population trends determine the evolution of the target age groups of the main social sectors (education, health, including sexual and reproductive health, social security, housing, sanitation, etc.), as well as their profiles by age, sex, and location, which are of key importance for estimating sectoral requirements and their geographical location. They also have an impact, through a variety of mechanisms, on fundamental aggregate economic parameters such as investment, savings, consumption, and productivity. Although these effects are complex, the essence of the theory, as well as the evidence, suggests that rapid rates of population growth and patterns of high levels of dependence, especially infant mortality, tend to erode the economic performance of countries.

On account of all these relationships, population trends have many interesting facets for decision-makers. As a result, it is neither strange nor questionable that governments should wish to exercise influence on these trends, through public policies that impact on determinants of the behaviour of the population.

This section will consider all components of population dynamics (including internal and international migration) and the main components of sexual and reproductive health (SRH). However, not all of these issues need to be treated with the same depth. The criteria for establishing the particular importance of each subject will be based on: the contextualized Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), priority public policies, the situation of the demographic and urban transition and the availability of information in the respective country. The emphasis and priorities of UNFPA at the global, regional and national level also need to be taken into account.

In the course of this chapter, a number of tools will be introduced that may facilitate the intended analyses. The Training Module on integration of population issues into the African Development Bank’s programmes and projects includes one module on the conceptual framework of population and poverty in which basic concepts of population and the component of population dynamics, as well as development are explained. Further, most common measures and indicators of population, development and poverty are explained in this module. It also includes a session on levels and trends in population size, fertility, mortality and migration. A Population Decomposition Model recently developed by John Bongaarts, of the Population Council, separates the different components of projected population growth (according to the UN Population Division’s Medium Variant) into wanted fertility, unwanted fertility, population inertia, mortality, and international migration. The UNFPA action guide on Contributing to National Poverty Reduction Strategies provides suggestions on how UNFPA country offices can play a constructive role in the formulation of national Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS), drawing from the experience of selected country offices.


1. Trajectory and Growth of the Population in the Context of the Demographic Transition
2. Changes in the Situation of Sexual and Reproductive Health, with an Emphasis on Fertility
3. Sexual and Reproductive Health: Health Systems and Service Delivery

3.1. Health Systems and Service Delivery
3.2. Emergency Obstetric Care
3.3. Unmet Need

4. Obstetric Fistula
5. Changes in Overall, Infant, Child, and Maternal Mortality
6. Morbidity, Mortality and the Epidemiological Transition
7. Situation and Trends with Respect to HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
8. Low Fertility and Population Decline
9. Changes in the Age Structure, with Special Reference to Ageing
10. Adolescents and Youth and their Emergence as a Priority Group
11. Marriage and Family Patterns
12. Settlement Patterns and Population Mobility

12.1. Urbanization and Changes in Regional Population Distribution
12.2. Internal Migration
12.3. Emergency Situations: Natural Disasters, Armed Conflicts, Displacement

13. International Migration
14. Trafficking and Cross-Border Movement
15. Socio-demographic Information as an Instrument of Analysis, Policies and Empowerment