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Shaping the future: How changing demographics can power human development

Asia-Pacific has been witnessing dramatic shifts in its population. Since 1950, the share of children has consistently contracted, while the shares of working-age and elderly people have steadily risen. On the cover of this report, patterns in the balloon depict shifting shares from 1950 until 2100. Population dynamics and a period of demographic transition will transform the future of the region, with profound implications for human development. The picture of a girl and a boy, a working-age woman and man, and an older woman and man convey that all people—including those with other gender identities—are inherently valuable and ought to be equal members of families and societies. Together, they represent how collaboration and interdependence can lead to greater mutual well-being. Ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all population groups will determine collective strength and resilience. Leveraging the capacity and creativity of different people will enable countries to reach higher levels of human development. The depiction of a hot air balloon carrying the people of the region upwards represents dynamic change and optimism. The balloon can take the region, with more than half the world’s population, to new heights, in any direction. In a time of change, the ability to navigate in the right direction will depend on clear, well-informed policy choices and abilities to adjust to changing needs. Making the most of the dividend that can accrue from demographic transition will require countries to read the wind, and to remain alert and responsive to impending challenges as well as opportunities.