According to Bloom, Canning, and Sevilla (2003), the size and composition of a household has implications on its welfare. Changes in the composition of different age groups are linked with household movements into and out of poverty due to the different needs throughout the life cycle: the young require intensive investment in health and education; prime-age adults require supply of labor and savings; and the aged require health care and retirement income.
The population structure has significant implications on labour, provision of social services and issues of social security. A large child population presents the challenge of provision of essential services like education and child health. A small working age population means that only a few people in the entire population continue to shoulder the burden of taxation and care for those that are dependent on them.
Kenya’s demographic structure is that of a pyramid (see Figure 2.1) with those aged between 0 and 14 years (the children) comprising of 43% of the total population while those aged between 15 and 34 (youth) comprising of 35% of the total population. The working age population (15-64) comprises of 53.4% of the total population while the elderly (65+) comprise of 3.5% of the total population.
Figure 2.1: National population pyramid
The population distribution differs between rural areas and urban areas (see figure 2.2 and figure 2.3). Urban areas have a smaller proportion of 0-14 year olds (the current proportion of this age group in urban areas is 36.5% compared to 46.1% in rural areas) due to the tendency to get fewer children in urban areas than in rural areas. Urban areas have a larger number of youth (15-34 year olds) who currently form 42.4% of the population in urban areas and 31.8% of the population in rural areas. This is attributed to a significantly high number of those aged between 20 and 34 years migrating from rural to urban areas in search of employment and education opportunities. Consequently, urban areas have a higher number of the working age population (15-64 year olds) who form 61.3% of the population in urban areas compared to 49.8% in rural areas. Rural areas have higher numbers of the elderly (65+) i.e. 4.1% of the population compared to 2.2% of this age group in urban areas.
Figure 2.2: Rural population pyramid
Figure 2.3: Urban population pyramid