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The age and sex distribution of the population of Nigeria by the 1991 census is as shown in Table 1.3.2. The data Show a high proportion of children in the population. Those under 15 years of age constituted about 45 per cent of the total population. The proportion of aged persons (60 years and above) in the population constituted only 3.3 per cent. The age structure of the population, according to the 1991 census, shows a very broad-based pyramid, reflecting the large proportion of children and young persons.
The large proportion of the population aged under 15 years portrays a large number of potential parents. The data also demonstrate a high child (or youth) dependency ratio which, when combined with the aged dependency ratio, gives an overall dependency ratio of about 1 to 1. That is, for every supposedly active (i.e. productive) person in the population in the working age group of 25 to 64 years, one other person is dependent. This is a rellatively large figure compared with the situation )n the deveioped countries with e chief dependency ratio of about one child to three adults of the working age groups. Furthermore, the high level of unemployment in Nigeria means prolonged dependency of working-age adults on parents and on the economically active (working) population.
Obviously, a higher depenpendency ratio exposes considerable strain on the economy at both the family and national levels. The large amount of resources used to provide feeding and clothing as well as for the education and health care of young people has greatly reduced the level of savings, investment and capital formation in the country.
The high proportion of young people in the population has implications for future jobiessness as the economy is not likely to expand (grow) rapidly enough to accommodate the population. It is observed that the high proportion of young people in the population is as a result of high fertility level and declining mortality level. The situation of a young and rapidly expanding population is likely to continue in the country for some time until fertility level falls and the proportion of children in the population starts lowering.