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Flash Points and Tipping Points: Security Implications of Global Population Changes

Flash Points and Tipping Points: Security Implications of Global Population Changes

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Published by The Wilson Center
Jack Goldstone examines "four major trends that are likely to pose significant security challenges to Europe, Japan, and most other developed nations in the next two decades: disproportionate growth in large and Muslim countries, shrinking populations in the EU and former USSR, sharply opposing age shrifts between aging developed countries and youthful developing coutnries and increased immigration from developing to developed countries."
Jack Goldstone examines "four major trends that are likely to pose significant security challenges to Europe, Japan, and most other developed nations in the next two decades: disproportionate growth in large and Muslim countries, shrinking populations in the EU and former USSR, sharply opposing age shrifts between aging developed countries and youthful developing coutnries and increased immigration from developing to developed countries."

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: The Wilson Center on Sep 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ECSp rEport
iSSuE 13
 nEW dIrECTIonS In
DemOgrAPhiC SeCurity 
Flash Points and Tipping Points:
Secuity Impictis f gbPputi Ches
s improving relations between Western andMuslim countries crucial to fxing pensionprograms in Europe and the United States?Can reversing the “brain drain” o medical talentmigrating rom developing countries to devel
oped ones improve the budget balance o devel
oped nations? Will economic growth in China and India draw investment and innovation away rom the United States, Japan, and Europe?
trends in global population dynamics over thenext hal century. In this article, I examine
cant security challenges to Europe, Japan, andmost other developed nations in the next twodecades:
 (1) Disproportionate population growth inlarge and Muslim countries;(2) Shrinking population in the EuropeanUnion and European ormer Sovietcountries;
aging developed countries and youthuldeveloping countries; and(4) Increased immigration rom developing to developed countries.
population growth are not mainly due to short
distor- tions 
—in which populations grow too young, ortoo ast, or too urbanized—make it difcult orprevailing economic and administrative institu
Big Emerging Markets and theWorld Economy
reasons: high population growth rates anddemographic momentum.
In some countries,
birth rates remain much higher than mortality 
per year. In these countries—which include
Congo, Guatemala, Iraq, Jordan, Nepal, Saudi
still doubling every generation, or roughly every 
In other countries, such as China, India, andIndonesia, population growth rates have recent
ly dropped substantially; in percentage terms,they are growing more slowly than they have
 Jck a. gste
is h Virginia e. and John
t. hazl J. Pofsso a  go masonunvs Scool of Pblc Polc. t ao o co-ao of nn books and wnn of  Dsnsd Scolasp Awad of Acan Socolocal Assocaon, goldsons a ladn ao on onal conflcs, assvd on a u.S. vc-psdnal ask focon sa fal, and s a conslan o u.S. Sa Dpan,  Fdal Baof invsaon, and  u.S. Anc fo innaonal Dvlopn. (Poo b hdFanc, Woodow Wlson Cn)
 JaCK a.goldSTonE
EnvironmEntal ChangE and SECurity program
However, these countries already have sucha large cohort o women o childbearing agethat their populations continue to add signif
cant numbers each year. In China, or example,although most couples have ewer than twochildren, zero population growth is still severaldecades away. While current growth rates have
next two decades beore its population peaks.India, though not quite as large as China today, is growing twice as ast, at 1.4 percent
ple per decade or the next two decades. Even with a continued decline in their birth rates,these two countries alone are expected to add
than the entire population o the United States,the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and
have modest growth rates but large demographicmomentum, and thus will make the largest con
tributions to total world population growth in the
generally smaller, but are acing the largest bur
den o additional growth on a percentage basis
population growth will be concentrated in only a ew regions and countries, mainly Muslim societ
population growth rates in Europe and Japan arealready low and, in some cases, negative.
population living in Muslim states, or in thevery largest and very poorest states, will grow,and the proportion o the world’s populationliving in developed countries will shrink. 
sole exception is the United States, which is
immigration o people born elsewhere.Some countries with extremely rapid popu
lation growth are likely to manage it reason
ably well due to sound management and strong economic growth (e.g., Kuwait and the United
points,” the inability to integrate rapidly expand
ing populations into politics and the economy  will lead to radical political mobilization among those angry at not attaining the level o prosper
ity reached by some o their neighbors.Some o the extremely large countries willprobably manage their anticipated growth with
increases they ace in coming years, combined with their eorts to rapidly industrialize, meansthat many will also ace a “tipping point,” whenuneven development leaves tens o millions o disadvantaged people to watch other millions
ties o economic ortune among classes, regions,or ethnic groups may become so great as tospark violent protests. Or the migration o ruralmasses to urban and industrial centers couldproduce a social crisis. We cannot predict which countries willace such crises, as they are due to ailed politi
cal leadership and administrative managementmore than population changes
 per se 
can say that in many o the largest countries,governments will ace exceptional challenges inmeeting their populations’ demands or bothstrong and equitable economic growth andsound political management. We can say with certainty that these trends
icy and development o the West, particu
countries in the world were in Europe, with a 
remaining countries (UN Population Division,
 will be only our European countries in the top
 will be only three European countries in the top
25withatotalpopulationof258million,or justfourpercentofthe6.3billionintheother
disorions—in which
poplaonsow oo on,o oo fas, o oo banzd—ak  dffclfo pvaln
conomic and
adnsavnsons o
mainain sablsocializaion
and labo-foc
ECSp rEport
iSSuE 13
countries is shrinking dramatically.
demographic weight are even more striking.
In2005,allofEuropecomprised731mil-lionpeople,whichisprojectedtoshrinkto just664millionby2050,whiletherestofthe worldgrowsfrom5.8billionto8.5billion(UN
Population Division,
generation (the next 42 years), global popula 
lion while Europe’s population will
European countries puts them on the horns o 
developing countries do not catch up to thoseo the richer countries, then the standard o 
and unair than ever, ueling resentment o 
other hand, i economic growth in those coun
tries does exceed that o the West, so that liv 
ing standards in poor countries or regions startsto approach those o rich countries or regions,then the combination o shrinking popula 
tion and lagging economies will render the
 world economy. Greater resentment or greaterirrelevance: certainly a difcult choice.
and no net population growth, Europe’s econo
my would increase by US$9 trillion (excluding 
growth in GDP per capita plus large populationincreases in most countries, total GDP is grow 
ing ar more rapidly in this region. Iran andPakistan achieved recent growth rates o 4 and6 percent per year, respectively, while India and
and despite the global economic downturn,both countries are expected to continue grow 
-ingby6-7percentin2009(CIA,2008;EIU,2008).IfAsia(excludingJapan)cansustainanoverallgrowthrateoftotalGDPof5percentperyearoverthenext20years,theincreasein AsiasGDPwouldbeUS$30trillion
or morethan three times the total economic growth o Europe.
GDP does grow at that pace, then given the size
on the Eurasian continent will be occurring outside o Europe. Greater degrees o invest
ment and innovation are likely to move to areasoutside o Europe, urther weakening its eco
nomic strength and leadership. In other words, we are on the cusp o a global tipping point,
economic growth—a point made all the moresharper as Europe and Japan slip into recession
also indicate that the military capacities o large developing countries will increase, whilethe ability o rich nations to put “boots onthe ground” in conict zones will diminish.Managing conicts involving developing coun
tries will become more difcult, and will putmore o a strain on developed countries’ econo
mies, than beore.
Indonesia, and Mexico will become global eco
ers into international governance bodies is vitali those organizations are to retain legitimacy.
Markets and the World Economy expanded the
cratic economies—a trend that must continuei such eorts are truly going to grapple withthe global economy.Naturally, these measures will provoke greatopposition and controversy. However, i Europechooses to isolate itsel rom the global popula 
th proporionof h world’s
poplaonlvn n mslsas, o n v las andv poossas, wllow, and 
proporion of h world’s
poplaonlvn ndvlopdcons wllsnk.

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