I could dwell on the abundance of gloomy news in the developing countries or have a "pity party" over the sad state of the world. You know, with news such as this: the Stern Report from the World Bank (via Tony Karon) : "an average increase of 2 degrees due to global warming would lead to 32 inches raise in sea level which in turns could lead to 30-200 millions at risk of starvation and 60 million more exposed to malaria"
or such as this: the HIV pandemic situation is actually getting worse.
Or more mundane news such as "The Malawian biological father of Madonna's baby did not have enough money to raise his child but he is now getting married and having another baby."
Or that "the cost of the modest Cruise's wedding is probably enough to take care of ___(fill in here with the funding-starved cause of your choice)".
I could go on and on but I won't because 1st) you heard it before and 2nd) we don't need another reminder of how unjust things are in the real world.
Instead, we can focus on what is being done and the positive future prospects. Here is one perspective of view that I especially like (although it was not written for the developing countries)
The dependency/ratio theory (via M. Gladwell):
This theory is mostly illustrated by the economic boom in Ireland in the 90's. Ireland was the black sheep of Europe in terms of economic prosperity from the 60-'s to the 80's. Now Ireland is one of the most prosper nation of Europe with growth rate double the rate of the rest of Europe. Why ?
One possible explanation is the dependency ratio theory.
In short, it's the relation between the number of people who aren’t of working age and the number of people who are.
As explained by Gladwell: "In Ireland during the sixties, when contraception was illegal, there were ten people who were too old or too young to work for every fourteen people in a position to earn a paycheck. That meant that the country was spending a large percentage of its resources on caring for the young and the old. In 2006 Ireland’s dependency ratio hit an all-time low: for every ten dependents, it had twenty-two people of working age. That change coincides precisely with the country’s extraordinary economic surge.[..] Demographers estimate that declines in dependency ratios are responsible for about a third of the East Asian economic miracle of the postwar era [..]Dependency ratios may also help answer the much-debated question of whether India or China has a brighter economic future"
Obviously, it takes more than just demographic analyzes to forecast the economic future of a country. However, the coincidence between dependency ratio and economic boom is intriguing.
So what is Madagascar's dependency ratio ?
A definite answer is difficult to have because the proportion of working people for each age category is very variable (child labor, unemployment etc...). However 45% of the population is under the age of 15 which makes Madagascar the 5th youngest nation in the world with a ratio of 10 dependents per 12.5 working people. Ouch, In other words, we are in Ireland situation 25 years ago or worse.
I am hopeful that 25 years from now, the kids will do us proud, grow into productive "assets" and pull us out of perpetual poverty.
It could happen, it's got to start now, the onus is on us. This was my "pep talk" for the courageous ones who are planning projects for a return home and the ones who are already there. :) Kudos to all of you for contributing to the increase of active workers.
(I am not going back yet so this is in no way, shape or form a judgment on those who choose to stay abroad. We've got to make things work from wherever we are and soldier on from there. )
On a totally unrelated note, this space is been up for almost a year now. Amazing how time flies. What is the legal age for a blog to start drinking anyway ?
PS: 1) Obviously dependency ratio for senior citizens is also a factor to be considered but in western Europe, not in the southern regions.
2) This "theory" amounts to zero, ziltch, nada.... IF most of the kids don't ever make it to the workforce because of various illnesses. ( Cela va sans dire mais ca va mieux en le disant ).
3) There are very qualified people in the blogosphere who could discuss this with much more expertise. So is this theory total bollocks or is there an actual basis for hope ? :) (Assuming the dependency ratio is significantly lower in 20 years and that none of this nonsense is to happen again).
BBB's article about managing the dependency ratio here.