Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Power of Demography

Foreign Affairs has an interesting article on "The New Population Bomb". It argues that "A series of looming demographic trends will greatly affect international security in the twenty-first century. How policymakers adjust to these changes now will determine the course of global political and economic stability for years to come". The author also say that " twenty-first-century international security will depend less on how many people inhabit the world than on how the global population is composed and distributed: where populations are declining and where they are growing, which countries are relatively older and which are more youthful, and how demographics will influence population movements across regions".

And "Indeed, the same UN data cited by The Economist reveal four historic shifts that will fundamentally alter the world's population over the next four decades: the relative demographic weight of the world's developed countries will drop by nearly 25 percent, shifting economic power to the developing nations; the developed countries' labor forces will substantially age and decline, constraining economic growth in the developed world and raising the demand for immigrant workers; most of the world's expected population growth will increasingly be concentrated in today's poorest, youngest, and most heavily Muslim countries, which have a dangerous lack of quality education, capital, and employment opportunities; and, for the first time in history, most of the world's population will become urbanized, with the largest urban centers being in the world's poorest countries, where policing, sanitation, and health care are often scarce.

Some striking statistics::" The portion of global GDP produced by Europe, the United States, and Canada in 2050 will then be less than 30 percent -- smaller than it was in 1820". And: "An overwhelming proportion of the world's GDP growth between 2003 and 2050 -- nearly 80 percent -- will occur outside of Europe, the United States, and Canada. By the middle of this century, the global middle class -- those capable of purchasing durable consumer products, such as cars, appliances, and electronics -- will increasingly be found in what is now considered the developing world. The World Bank has predicted that by 2030 the number of middle-class people in the developing world will be 1.2 billion -- a rise of 200 percent since 2005. This means that the developing world's middle class alone will be larger than the total populations of Europe, Japan, and the United States combined.

Agree. In the context of Poland, given the increasing importance of demography in the global balance of power, I came up with a slogan "50 for 50", that is for Poland to achieve a population of 50 million by 2050 (from current 38), mostly through opening up for immigration. I have talked about it already in the "Golden Age" paper, but will follow up again soon.

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