Power and demography

By growing almost four-fold during the twentieth century, the world population has also undergone a far-reaching redistribution throughout the globe. It carries a potential for redistribution of power which has already started to materialize. While the relationship between demography and power is certainly a complex one, history shows a certain parallelism between them. Due to the differences, between states, in the schedules of their demographic transitions, new « demographic giants » have appeared, especially in Asia. Some of them have entered a growth cycle, changing the global distribution of economic power at the expense of the most developed countries. Because of their demographic structure, those are undergoing aging processes, liable to affect seriously their workforce, their welfare systems and, ultimately, their defence expenditure. In that respect, the gap will widen between, on the one hand, Europe and Japan, threatened by a demographic sagging, and, on the other hand, the United States, in a much better shape. Globally, the demographic and economic trends foster a shift towards Asia of the centre of gravity of the world. As far as Europe is concerned, it will need to address the issue, and open the debate on whether it is time to design and enact policies aimed at improving its birth-rates and at rationalizing immigration. – Summary AFRI-2004