Subscribe to the Healthy DEvelopments Newsletter

How population dynamics shapes development – and vice versa


Population dynamics is the way in which populations change over time in terms of size, composition and geographical distribution. It is a cross-cutting issue which potentially affects all sectors, bringing with it both opportunities and challenges for sustainable development. Changes in a given population’s size, age structure and spatial distribution have an impact on that population’s needs and require adjustments to policy and programme planning in a wide range of sectors such as health, for example, for planning health policy, programmes and facilities, and ensuring staffing. In the education sector population projections are required for planning, e.g. the size and location of new classrooms, as well as hiring and training teachers. In planning infrastructure population dynamics is crucial for determining, for instance, where and what kind of buildings and roads are required to meet the changing population’s needs.

Social, political or economic developments in turn have an impact on population dynamics. For example, modern medicine including vaccination reduces child mortality, thus increasing life expectancy. On the other hand, increased education for girls, by keeping them in school longer and enhancing their life-skills and knowledge, contributes to later marriage and child-bearing, which reduces the number of births. Where these interrelationships are recognised and taken into account at the planning stage, programmes can better leverage potential opportunities and prepare for possible population-related challenges. German development cooperation therefore supports its partner countries’ efforts to take population dynamics into account from the start in order to come up with sustainable, realistic and cost-effective policies and programmes.

What are the guiding principles of German development cooperation in population dynamics?

German development cooperation in the field of population dynamics is based on the observance of human rights, particularly the values of self-determination and gender equality. These principles are enshrined in key national and international documents, first and foremost in the paradigm-changing Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. In its position paper Population dynamics in German development cooperation the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) applies a holistic approach to population dynamics, defining three priority areas of intervention:

  • Establishing population dynamics in the international and national policy dialogues
  • Data-based development – knowledge facilitates action
  • Investments in a demographic dividend – fostering youth.

Germany’s prioritisation of population dynamics is reaffirmed and guided by the 2030 Agenda, in which the global community acknowledges how strongly development and sustainability depend on demographic factors.

If the world were a village….

If all the world were a village of just 100 people, this is who would live in it and how it would develop over the next 30 years:

If the world were a village
If the world were a village

A practical handbook, and portal, for development practitioners

To support partners and development actors in taking population dynamics into account in their planning and programming processes, German development cooperation has developed a practice-oriented handbook, whose main features are presented in this portal.

About this portal

  • This portal introduces the handbook and discusses population trends, demographic data, interactions between population dynamics and development sectors, and ways to integrate population dynamics in development.
  • At the bottom of certain texts, the portal shares important online resources.

With this set of materials, the portal aims to contribute to the evolving knowledge base on population dynamics in development cooperation.

© GIZ/Jose Diaz
Scroll to Top