Pakistan: Impact of Labor Force Expansion on Savings, Investments and GDP Growth
|Pakistan's Total Fertility Rate 2.62 Children Per Woman. Source: Washington Post|
Labor Force Expansion:
The latest Census 2017 results show that Pakistan's population growth rate has declined to 2.34% between 1998 and 2017, down from 2.61% (from 1981 to 1998) and 3.4% (from 1961-81). Life expectancy has increased from about 62 years in 1998 to 66.5 years now. The total fertility rate has declined from 4.6 children per woman in 1998 to to 2.62 children per woman in 2017. At the same time, Pakistan's labor force is growing at a rate of 3.6% a year, faster than the 2.34% overall population growth. Given Pakistan's human capital growth in recent years, it is a welcome situation that is expected to produce significant demographic dividend for the country.
|Source: World Bank Report "More and Better Jobs in South Asia"|
Pakistan's working age population in 15-64 years age bracket is expected to increase by 27.5 million people to 147.1 million in 10 years, according to Bloomberg News' analysis of data reported in UN World Population Prospects 2017. Pakistan's increase of 27.5 million is the third largest after India's 115.9 million and Nigeria's 34.2 million increase in working age population of 15-64 years old. China's working age population in 15-64 years age group will decline by 21 million in the next 10 years.
Pakistan's labor force growth will continue by adding 80 million workers n 30 years' time, third only to India's 234 million and Nigeria's 130 million additional workers in 15-64 years age group. China's work force will decline by 171 million workers in this time period.
Savings, Investment and GDP Growth:
Currently, about a third of Pakistan's population is below the age of 15, dependent on working age adults. This high ratio of dependent population results in low savings, low investment and consequent slower economic growth and sub-par socio-economic development.
Pakistan's national savings was about 10% of GDP in 1960s. It increased to above 15% in 2000s in Musharraf years, but declined afterwards. It is well below the savings rates in South Asia region with India's 30%, Bangladesh's 28%, and Sri Lanka's 24.5%.
Higher levels of inequality in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka account at least partially for their higher savings rates than Pakistan's because people in higher income groups tend to save more of what they earn. But the other probably more important reason for Pakistan's lower savings rate is the larger percentage of children under the age of 15 who do not work and depend on their parents' incomes.
Pakistan's labor force growth is forecast to be the 3rd biggest in the world after India's and Nigeria's, according to UN World Population Prospects 2017. Rising working age population and growing workforce participation of both men and women in developing nations like Pakistan will boost domestic savings and investment, according to Global Development Horizons (GDH) report. Escaping the low savings low investment trap will help accelerate the lagging GDP growth rate in Pakistan as will increased foreign investment such as Chinese investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor over the next several decades.
Here's a discussion on this and other subjects:
Pakistan's Population Growth: Blessing or Curse?
Pakistan's Expected Demographic Dividend
World Bank Report on Job Growth in Pakistan
Underinvestment Hurting Pakistan's GDP Growth
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
Musharraf Accelerated Growth of Pakistan's Financial and Human Capital
Working Women Seeding a Silent Revolution in Pakistan