According to Bloom (2003), the way in which a population is distributed across different age groups at any given point in time is deemed important because people’s social and economic behaviour and needs vary at different stages of life. A country’s age structure therefore has a significant impact on its socio-economic development. A large population of children (0-14) signifies high child dependency and the need to invest in child and maternal health as well as education opportunities. A large working age population (15-64) signifies an urgent need for investment in gainful employment opportunities while a large ageing population (65+) signifies high aged dependency and the need to invest in health care and retirement income.
- Proportion of the population by age
Figure 2.1: Proportion of the population by age in Kenya and by rural/urban
As illustrated in figure 2.1, Kenya’s child population is at 43 percent while the youth population is 35 percent. The working age population is 53.4 percent while the aged population is 3.5 percent. There are slight differences between rural and urban areas. The child population is 9.6 percentage points more in rural areas than in urban areas. The youth and the working age population is more in urban than in rural areas by 10.6 and 11.5 percentage points respectively. As expected, rural areas have twice the number of old people than urban areas.
Figure 2.2: Proportion of the population by age in counties
As illustrated in figure 2.2, over half of the population in Mandera, West Pokot, Wajir, Tana River, Samburu, Narok and Migori Counties are below 14 years of age. These counties also have the highest total dependency ratios and, with the exception of Migori and Narok Counties, are among the poorest in Kenya. Nairobi, Mombasa and Kiambu Counties have the highest proportions of youth i.e 49 percent, 46 percent and 40 percent respectively. Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Nyeri Counties have more than 60 percent of their population in the working age group. These counties have the least dependency ratios and are among the least poor in Kenya. Muranga, Nyeri and Vihiga Counties have the highest number of old people.