As of midyear 2016, Nigeria had a population of 186.0 million, annual population growth rate of 2.6%, and 44% of Nigeria’s population was under age 15.  The Total Fertility Rate, or the average number of children per woman over the course of her lifetime, has declined from 6.5 children in 1990 to 5.7 children per woman in 2015.  Given Nigeria’s high population size and population growth rate, even assuming a decline in fertility to 3.7 children per woman, the population of the country is expected to grow to over 440 million people by 2050. To support widespread economic growth, Nigeria should prioritize improving access to and uptake of family planning to reduce fertility. In addition, skills training and job creation is needed for the large number of young people who will be entering the workforce.

Population pyramids can be used to show change to age structure over time as well as projected changes to age structure in the future. Looking at Nigeria’s population pyramids, not much change to age structure is evident until “Nigeria 2030”.

Nigeria’s population pyramids from 1970 to 2010 look nearly identical. The lack of change between these pyramids means that the age structure of the country hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years. Total fertility rates in the country remain high and, in general, each working age adult supports several dependents. “Nigeria 2030” looks different than previous pyramids and is based on United Nations projections that assume a decline in total fertility to 4.9 children per woman over her lifespan. As a result, a slight narrowing of the base of this population pyramid is evident. “Nigeria 2050” shows a more noticeable narrowing of the base of the population pyramid, based on the assumption that fertility will decline further to 3.7 children per woman.  In this 2050 scenario, Nigeria would have a larger proportion of the population working-age and, if able to secure employment, able to contribute to economic growth.

Working Towards a Demographic Dividend in Nigeria

If Nigeria makes substantial investments in reproductive health and family planning, particularly in parts of the country with poor health indicators, then fertility levels may begin to decline more significantly, and children will be more likely to achieve better basic levels of health. With additional investments in health and education, and economic initiatives to facilitate job creation, Nigeria may be able to experience the rapid economic growth known as a demographic dividend. There are a few organizations researching the topic of a demographic dividend in Nigeria.

  • National Transfer Accounts project created a country brief on the subject of the generational economy and the demographic dividend in Nigeria.
  • African Population Studies created a special supplement in Spring 2014 on Nigeria Population and Development Issues. The supplement included two articles on the demographic dividend in Nigeria.

Population Reference Bureau, 2014 World Population Data Sheet, (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2014).

United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, (New York: United Nations, 2013).

World Bank Group. (2014) World DataBank. Retrieved from

Education statistics were taken from the most recent Demographic and Health Survey for each country.

World Bank Group. (2014) Worldwide Governance Indicators. Retrieved from

World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, (Geneva: Switzerland, 2014).


Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution. Thus a Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality.

Dependency ratio is the ratio of dependents--people younger than 15 or older than 64--to the working-age population--those ages 15 to 64. Although each country’s experience is different, countries that have realized a demographic dividend typically have a dependency ratio of less than 50 dependents for every 100 working-age adults.

Worldwide Governance Indicators are measured on a scale from -2.5 to +2.5. The closer to 2.5 the rating is, the stronger the governance. Government Effectiveness is a composite governance indicator with data from multiple sources. Political stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism is a composite governance indicator with data from multiple sources More information on methodology available at:

Global Competitiveness Index defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy. The different aspects of competitiveness are captured in 12 pillars, ranging from institutional strength to market size.