Youths account for 28pc of population
Bangladesh's youth population has increased by 15.81 percent to 4.59 crore in the last decade, as per the recent census -- raising the stakes for the government to take measures to make the most of their potential.
"Youth population is the country's wealth," said Shahnaz Arefin, secretary of the statistics and informatics division, at a programme yesterday to unveil the adjusted data of the Population and Housing Census 2022.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics released the data after scrutiny by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
The total population now is 16.98 crore and 27.96 percent of them are aged between 15-29 years. In the last survey, the total population was 14.98 crore number, 26.4 percent of which were youth.
The census report is published every ten years. The latest report was delayed, with the preliminary report published in July last year.
Arefin went on to underscore the need for studies for the proper utilisation of the youth population.
"The youth need to be utilised properly to cash in on the demographic dividend," said Binayak Sen, director-general of BIDS.
Demographic dividend refers to the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population's age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).
To get the most out of Bangladesh's ongoing demographic dividend phase, Sen suggested creating job opportunities.
The youth need to be utilised properly to cash in on the demographic dividend.
"Otherwise, it may turn into a disaster. Policymakers need to find out what students do after graduating from university," he added.
Planning Minister MA Mannan raised questions on why the census, which cost Tk 1,500 crore, is published every ten years whereas many countries publish the population data every year.
The report shows that the Dhaka division has the highest population: 4.56 crore. It is 26.88 percent of the total population.
The Chattogram division has the second highest population: 3.41 crore. This accounts for 20.13 percent of the total population. Rajshahi division accounts for 12.24 percent of the total population.
Of the total population, 31.66 percent live in urban areas and the rest in rural areas.
Referring to the earlier census reports, Sen said urbanisation was faster before.
The latest census shows the pace of urbanisation slowed in the last ten years.
In developed countries, 40 percent of the total population lives in the urban areas, he said, adding that the ratio is still low in Bangladesh though it is graduating to the developing country bracket.
"Policymakers should find out the reason behind this," Sen added.
There has been significant development in the rural areas, said Shamsul Alam, the state minister for planning.
"Urban facilities are available in rural areas. There are English medium schools in villages," he added.
BBS Director General Matiar Rahman and Project Director Dildar Hossain also spoke among others.